We have come to the second week of Advent, which happens to fall on the 8th of December – traditionally, The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in which Mary was born without the stain of Original Sin so that the humanity that we would pass on to Our Lord would be untouched by sin. That is a complex idea that we will need to leave for another day. However, our readings present two very interesting images that are relevant. In the first reading, we hear of “a shoot [that has] sprout[ed] from the stump of Jesse.” On several occasions, I have needed to cut down trees and I find it interesting when several months later, new shoots begin to pop up from a root system that I assumed was dead. We think of the Jewish people – the people of Israel – as one people. But in fact, they were divided between twelve tribes who were not always united with each other. Jesse of whom we hear was the father of David, who became King of Israel after King Saul. David is often seen as a Christ-like figure in the Old Testament as he sought to unite the various tribes together. Disunity among people is typically a result of disunity within ourselves. When we speak of a person of “integrity” we are speaking of someone who has the various parts of their life integrated together. In the Gospel, John the Baptist reminds the people to repent, which means that they need to look deep within themselves, identify areas in need of change, and then work to make those changes. Without internal unity inside of oneself there will never be external unity among the people of a society. John also speaks of “making straight the paths in the wilderness.” It is amazing to be in a mountainous area and to see roads and bridges that have been built, cutting through mountains and spanning large valleys. John is telling those who hear him, including us, that we need to remove anything in our lives that stands in the way of Christ and build the structures that make faithfulness possible. I would like to echo my request from last week. During this Advent season, please commit yourselves to go to confession. We will offer confession here on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. Also, please pray actively for our parish – that we may know the ways that the Holy Spirit wants us to grow and to organize. I pray you to experience a blessed Advent.
Fr. Justin, Our Lady of the Presentation Parish