Rejoice! For the Kingdom of God is at hand!
What’s that? You mean that’s not what John the Baptist proclaimed? No, John came preaching a baptism of repentance. The Gospel of Matthew has him proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 3:2).
Every year, on the Second Sunday of Advent, we hear about John the Baptist, and we can’t point to others in the crowd and say to ourselves, “He’s talking about them.” We are all called to repentance. We are all called to make straight the path of God by filling in the valleys of despair with hope and bringing low the mountains of pride with humility.
Advent might not be a season of penance, but it is certainly a season of repentance. It is a season not of atonement for sins, but of re-orienting ourselves in preparation for His glorious return. Contrition has its part to play, as we empty ourselves of our selves. Many parishes will celebrate communal penance services, in which the emphasis should probably be place on reconciliation between God and the penitent.
God came to us over 2000 years ago, and we celebrate His birth on Chistmas. He will come again, though we know not when. Let us use this time to prepare, that His path to our hearts might be straight and smooth.