THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

Fourth Sunday of Advent

23 December 2018

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Dear Friends,

In this world — in this life — we are presented with many differences and inequalities. There are mountains and hills as well as valleys. There are rough ways and crooked ways. St. John Chrysostom suggests to us that these all represent the various kinds of people. There are great and various differences between us all while we are in this life — or more specifically — while we are in this life of sin and separation from Jesus.

We are called upon by St. John the Baptist to enter into penance so that we may smooth our lives out and be made worthy to receive Jesus into our lives. St. John brought a baptism of penance and Jesus brought a baptism of forgiveness. It is in the forgiveness of our sins that the mountains are brought low and the valleys are filled as well as rough ways made smooth and crooked ways are made straight. In the forgiveness of sins we are all made One in Jesus Christ. All the differences of distinction in this life are removed. In Heaven there is no rich or poor — all are rich in God. In Heaven there is neither male or female — but all are as angels. There is no longer young or old — all are eternally young.

To receive this great blessing of Heaven, we must receive the baptism that Jesus brought us. The baptism that washes away our sins. However, before we can receive this baptism, we must first receive the baptism of St. John the Baptist. We must be baptized or born into a life of repentance and penance. Now is the season to put off the old man and put on the new one — to die to the false or fleeting pleasures of this world so that we may receive the eternal pleasures of Heaven.

There are many who have passed this season of Advent without any repentance or penance. There is some reflection upon the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, but little thought is given to preparing ourselves to meet Him. It is our wish and prayer that we use the remaining time of Advent accordingly, so that we may appropriately welcome the life of Jesus Christ into our own lives. The celebration of His birth should be a celebration of His birth into our souls. We should make room for Him in the innermost sanctuary of our souls. This requires that we clean house and remove all that is offensive to Him or that has become an obstacle or distraction to the focus and attention that we should give only to Him.

Through the mortification of our passions and stomachs by fasting and abstinence, we remove many of the occasions of sin and thus remove many sins from our lives. We free our hearts and minds from the distractions of this world and life so that we can focus upon the things of eternity and the next life. If we desire to experience the fullness of happiness that is offered to us by God on Christmas Day, we must purge out the false, fleeting, and illusive pleasures that are so great a distraction to us in this life. This is only accomplished by repentance for our past sins and penance.

Baptism represents death as well as birth. Going into the water represents dying to this world, this life of sin. This aspect of baptism was given by St. John the Baptist. Rising up out of the water represents rising from the dead and the beginning of a new life. Jesus added this aspect of baptism to the baptism of St. John. Both sides are necessary. We must experience death if we seek life. Until God calls us to the final moment of our lives here on earth, we are to experience death through repentance and penance. We imitate St. John the Baptist in his life of austerity and we empty souls or our worldly pleasures to make room for Jesus to be born in the stable of our hearts and souls. The weak glitter of the lights and decoration of this world, need to be set aside so that the true Light and Beauty of the Son of God can enter in. We need to set these aside, otherwise there is no room in the inn of our souls. Jesus comes to the humble and simple souls that resemble stables more so than palaces.

However, one He enters into the stables of our souls we are immediately transformed into palaces. It is not with the worldly and transitory pleasure and glory that we are adorned, but with eternal and unchanging glory of Jesus Christ. Having died to ourselves, we are then able to live in Him. In Him all is made smooth, and level — bright and happy.

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