Categories: Pastor's Desk

As a choral musician, I have had the opportunity to perform Handel’s Messiah several times in my life. This piece is a wonderful portrayal of the drama of salvation history set to music. I always find it striking that Handel chose to begin this great work with the words of the Prophet Isaiah, which we hear in today’s Gospel: Prepare the way of the Lord, and make straight his paths! Just as John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, these words are a reminder to us to prepare our hearts to encounter the Lord in our lives.

In our Gospel, John the Baptist gives us some striking instructions on how we are to prepare the way of the Lord. The first key is repentance. John makes it clear that the mere act of having water poured over one’s head is not enough. It’s not enough to say we have repented: our repentance needs to bear fruit. We need to be able to demonstrate through the way that we live our lives that change has taken place. That’s why John the Baptist, just like Jesus, speaks so strongly to the Pharisees and Sadducees. In their pride, these leaders of the Jewish people felt they had no need to repent, because Abraham was their Father, and that made them God’s chosen people. In doing so, they fell into the trap of presumption, and failed to acknowledge their own need for repentance.

This trap of presumption is very real, and it can be all to easy for us to fall into it as well. We can allow our own negative attachments to blind us, and to keep us from seeing our need to bear the good fruit of conversion. This reality is often compounded by the fact that the secular pressures of the holidays make it very difficult to focus on the true message of Advent. Our challenge is to take the time in the midst of this busy season to truly prepare our hearts to meet the Lord. What harmful attitudes and behaviours is God calling us to let go of? What acts of charity can we focus on during this season of preparation? If we can answer these questions, we can begin to make the paths of our hearts straight, so that the Lord may more fully enter our lives.

This weekend, our RCIA Inquirers will be participating in the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of the Catechumenate, as they prepare to receive the Sacraments at Easter. Please keep them in your prayers as they prepare their hearts to receive the Lord in the Easter Sacraments. Please also pray for our young people who will be receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation this weekend and next weekend.

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Steven Huber, CSB