And John the Baptist told them that going through the motions of religion would not be good enough: Their lives had to change. They needed to care for the poor and the hungry. The tax collectors were told to be honest. The soldiers were told to stop hounding people. Everyone was told to live his or her life sincerely, honestly, compassionately, with a pure and clean heart.
What should we do? How should we react to this burning within us, this presence of Jesus? Well, my brother, my sister, the exercise of Advent is to place ourselves in the days before the Lord.
I ask myself that question this Advent because the presence of Christ means more to me than ever before in my life. I am sure most of you also feel the same way. So, what should we do? What should I do?
First of all, we have to stop acting as though worshiping God was a boring routine, a chore that had to be completed to get into heaven. We worship God because we need Him, not because He needs us. We are united to Him to protect us from the moral diseases of our society. More than that, better than that, we are united to Him because we really love the Lord.
Second, we have to stop ridicule ourselves, thinking that we are not good enough or no worthy to proclaim Jesus Christ. So many of us do this. Many of you drop your children off for religious education or youth ministry and let the parish usurp the role of parents as first teachers in the ways of the faith. Many of you say, “Who am I to speak about God to my children? I have not always been a good Christian.” Allow me to remind you who you are. You are children of God, created in His Image and Likeness and redeemed by His Blood. You are people whom God loves. And just as a loving Father or Mother looks at their children and sees that spouse they love so much, God looks at your children and sees you and sees me, people He loves so very much.
What else do we need to do to proclaim the Presence of the Lord? John the Baptist makes it clear that we proclaim the Kingdom in the way we treat others. You, my parishioners, have been wonderful in the way that you have reached out to the poor of our parish area. Whenever there is a special collection, you are generous. These are important ways of ushering the Messiah into people’s life.
We also need to be compassionate and forgiving. We may forget all sorts of things, but we always remember hurt feeling, nasty words, and unjustified attacks. Many people who have hurt us want to come back into our lives. Cards or gifts are often their way of saying, “Please let me back in.” Indeed we proclaim the Lord’s Presence in our lives and in our world by letting go of the past and letting God’s love and compassion and forgiveness.
My brother, my sister, Christmas is upon us. How can we prepare the world for the Kingdom of God? We should rejoice. We should live our lives in the joy of the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord, always, I say it again, rejoice! Paul’s words to the Philippians in our second reading, and the Rose Candle and Vestments for this Sunday, remind us that we are people of joy. We need to provide others with examples of our joy. That is how we can help others prepare for the Kingdom. After all, joy is catching ■
 Sunday 13th December, 2009, 3rd Sunday of Advent. Readings: Zephaniah 3:14-18. Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel—Isaiah 12:2-6. Philippians 4:4-7. Luke 3:10-18 [St Lucy].