Turn Your Life Around
In this short homily for 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year A, Father Hanly talks about metanoia and turning your life around.
Readings for Second Sunday of Advent, Year A
- First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
- Second Reading: Romans 15:4-9
- Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12
Today, the Second Sunday of Advent, it is John the Baptist who sets the scene.
John and Jesus were cousins who knew each other from childhood. And when John grew up, he began to realize that God had a very special mission for him. He was to become the Precursor (forerunner) of the Messiah.
We do not know much, but we do know that John spent some time with the Essenes, who were a group of strict observance Jews waiting and praying for the imminent coming of the long-awaited Messiah. John soon left them to live in the deepest part of the desert, where he waited for the call from God.
And, of course, with the passage of time Jesus himself grew to manhood, left his carpenter’s tools behind and went off into the Jordon Valley where subsequently he was baptised by his old friend John the Baptist.
John the Baptist is a wonderful figure, an intelligent, courageous and very humble man, although he could lose his temper at times, but only for the best of reasons.
He was totally dedicated to the coming of the kingdom of God (the kingdom of God means God Himself), a kingdom of mercy and forgiveness, and he was urging the throngs of people to come to the Jordan River to be baptized to wash away the past and begin again: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
He was talking about metanoia, a Greek word that means not just to be sorry for your sins, but to turn your life around and come back to the Lord, your God!’ God is calling. The Messiah is here.
John was angry with the Pharisees and Sadducees, not because they were religious leaders of the Jewish people, for this they were respected, but because too often they thought that they alone spoke for God, and they spoke a very, very harsh kind of religion, all rules and regulations but without heart. It was lacking in mercy and compassion.
This gave rise to John’s anger and the Baptist turned on them, because while they saw sin as breaking a law, John the Baptist knew that it was much more serious, for basically sin is a failure to love, and love without compassion, without mercy, without forgiveness is empty and void of life itself. It lacks a spirit of self-sacrifice which is indeed the heart and soul of God Himself.
And we are to mirror Him: to be like Jesus, to be the kind of person you know you want to be, and can become, to walk with Jesus, for Jesus has only one reason, one purpose, in coming and that is to teach us all how to love as he loves, how to love as the Father loves.
We were told in the seminary not to be afraid to admit that we were sinful. It wasn’t something to be afraid of, or something that needed to be denied.
Because Jesus has come, he has already come, walked into our world and he is here to stay.
The coming of the Christ Child into our homes and hearts brings back to us the joy and peace of God’s presence.
We should not be afraid to admit our frailties and our weaknesses, that we fail ourselves and we fail our families and we fail our God. The Bible says the good man fails seven times a day.
It’s Christmas time. John the Baptist comes and stands before us, he delivers tough words but beautiful words.
He is saying prepare your hearts for the coming of the Lord. Whatever is standing in the way of your loving and caring not for just God, but for each other … get rid of it!
Toss it aside, for every Christmas is a new beginning, a new life, a new hope, a new joy, not just for ourselves but for the people we touch and mingle with every day of our lives.
And then we will understand what Christmas really is. Christmas is to live with a loving, kind, forgiving Father who will lead us with His Son Jesus, safely home.