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The Poverty of Repentance

“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.”

Matt. 3:2

My dear family in Christ,

The Gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Advent issues a crystal-clear call for repentance. It centers around John the Baptist, a near-perfect companion for our Advent preparation. The mission of his life was simply to ‘prepare the way of the Lord’, something he did mainly by calling the men and women of his day to repent. Through this Gospel, we hear the same call today.

Repentance means to ‘regret so deeply as to change the mind and course of conduct in consequence and develop new habits’. It’s more than a feeling of regret - it’s a recognition of one’s need to change, followed by an earnest, wholehearted resolution to change. John didn’t make a lot of friends this way; ultimately it cost him his head, when he called even King Herod to repent of an unlawful and immoral ‘marriage’.

If we’re honest, I suspect none of us particularly enjoy being called to repentance. It hurts our pride, shatters our misconceptions about how great we are, and perhaps most uncomfortably/inconveniently, invites us to make a serious change. In a word, it points out something that is hard for most of us to admit: our poverty. It is so hard for me to admit that I don’t have it all together, I’m not okay, and not only am I not perfect, but in actual fact I am rather pitiful. I’m a sinner; I need to change, and I am utterly incapable of doing so on my own. Despite my best efforts to broadcast the contrary, I am the furthest thing from self-sufficient. Help me, Lord, for I am poor and needy, as the psalmist says so beautifully.

St. Oscar Romero had this to say about the relationship between Christmas and our need for poverty ‘Noone can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, having everything, look down on others, those who have no need even of God- for them, there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone to come on their behalf, will have that someone. That someone is God, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit, there can be no abundance of God.’

-St. Oscar Romero

On this Second Sunday of Advent, Holy Mother Church sweetly invites us to prepare for Christmas by laying down our pride, acknowledging our poverty, and repenting. If it’s been a long time since your last confession, and you’re looking for a sign, this is it. Confessions at OLOS are Tuesday and Thursday from 6:15-6:45, Saturday from 9:30-10:30 & 3:30-4:30 or at your convenience by appointment, as well as Monday through Friday from 8-9pm at St. Dennis Church in St. Catharines. There is no more beautiful manner of preparing the way for Jesus than to give Him and ourselves the gift of repentance in the Sacrament of Confession. Let’s make it happen before Christmas.

God love you,

Father Daniel

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