I’m back! Father Humbug has some more advice. Last week I spoke and wrote about the opportunity that is presented to us in this season of Advent. We can shop until we drop and get caught up in so many preparations and expectations that we are exhausted before Christmas even draws near. While I do not send Christmas cards, I respect those who do. I just think it should not turn into competitive madness.

I still espouse everything I said but I also recognize that it is a question of balance. There are preparations like shopping and decorating and baking that need to be done. There is value to all of these things but it is a question of balance and keeping perspective on what is important. Our spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ is very important and I urge you not to miss the opportunity that Advent provides.

It is true that we already have Christ living within us primarily through our Baptism. However, the length and the depth and the richness of Christ’s presence and His grace cannot be absorbed by any of us in an entire lifetime. Furthermore, we have changed and we have faced different challenges and opportunities this past year and thus we need to look within and see where we may need Christ to lift our drooping spirits and enkindle renewed love in our hearts. Again I ask you: Where do you need the God of hope to broaden your narrow perspective? Look up and see that your redemption is close at hand! Where do you need the Prince of Peace to melt your anger? These are personal questions and I think we have a golden opportunity to ask these questions while waiting for Christ to be born again, not in a stable in Bethlehem but in the recesses of our hearts.

In this context we are given the figure of John the Baptist as a voice crying out in the desert to prepare the way of the Lord and make a straight path for His arrival. And what does John ask us to do? He asks us to repent, to bring our lives into harmony with the message of Christ, to surrender the anger and the hurt that keep us from love. And how might you do that? Come to confession. You can stay at home and tell God you are sorry but that is not a Sacrament. It can even be a copout -– just you and Jesus while ignoring those we hurt or failing to take responsibility for our sins. Jesus alone can forgive sins and he has given us a way to be told that we are loved and lovable even though we have sinned. You can go to any parish for this beautiful Sacrament. All it takes is a phone call or check the parish website for times of Confession.

Jesus is coming. He is coming soon. Are you truly ready to receive Him?

May the Lord give you peace.

Rev. James M. McNamara