PASTOR’S CORNER

PREPARE YE THE WAY

      Not until three years ago I was the pastor for five parishes within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. One of those was St. Mary’s Parish in Camden, in the Gratis area of the Preble County. It is about thirty miles from St. Benedict Church but it takes me not less than forty minutes for me to make it when I am really driving at a reasonable speed where as Cincinnati which is about fifty-six to sixty miles takes me somewhere forty-five minutes to make it. The Camden road is full of curbs and hills on a country road and that consumes time and needs extra care and patience, whereas the Cincinnati one is a straight short with four lanes and less curbs and hills.

       Today’s gospel reading urges us to prepare the way of the Lord, level all the mountains and making his paths smooth and straight. Most of us like a better road, because it is comfortable to be on a good road and a good road cuts down mileage and speedy up our journey. I hope this will make us understand why God today in the Gospel reading is asking us to make his paths straight. On the Second Sunday of Advent, the Church presents us with the challenge to research into our hearts and find out the mountains and valleys in our hearts. Each one of us as well as a community of believers will need to ask ourselves: What are the potholes in my life that I need to fill up; is it my selfishness or my anger? What are the mountains in my life that I need to level to speedy up the Lord ‘s coming, is it my jealousy or pride? What are the curb areas in my spiritual journey I need to straighten up, is it the gossips and false fabrications of stories or it is my laziness and lack of availing myself for the services of the Lord?

     If somebody important is coming to your house, I am sure you take your whole time to clean up and tidy up your compound and inside the house. What are the dusty areas of your life and the areas of tall grass that you need to clear? Christ is coming but how are you going to receive him when he comes at Christmas time or at the end of your life? Advent is the
time of preparation; a time we prepare waiting for both his first and second coming. Let the readings today help us as they give us the directions to meet him in the proper way.

ENJOY YOUR ADVENT

WATCH AND PRAY

      The end of the world is known only to God. It is his secret. He has not told us for some very good reason. But we do know that the end of this world for each one of us is at the moment of his death. When I breathe my last I shall have ended my stay in this world. I shall enter the new future world which I know exists. However, the knowledge of that moment is also hidden from me, and again for very good reasons. If many Christians knew the day and hour of their death, they would postpone their conversion until that last moment. This, of course, would be extreme foolishness, but the world is full of folly. What guarantee have such “unfaithful servants” that they will be given the grace of conversion at that last moment? What reward could such a selfish servant expect of the good Lord? There have been death-bed conversions—the good thief on the cross is an example—but such converts did not willingly postpone their conversion.

     The moment of our death is kept secret from us so that the naturally lazy and dilatory amongst us will see the need for being ever on the alert. When we realize what God the Father and Christ have done for us we should feel ashamed at our lack of generosity in God’s service. We are expected to serve God willingly and faithfully every moment of our lives. But God knows the clay of which we are made, hence Christ’s words of warning to all of us. Most of us do what we should out of a sense of gratitude to God, at least for our own self interest. We all wish to get to heaven, and to do so we must be found worthy at the moment of death. That all important moment is hidden from us and the only way to make sure of being found worthy then is to strive to be worthy always.

      Watch!” then, is Christ’s advice and command. We know not the year or the day or the hour when our master will call us. That year, day and hour will be unexpected, even if we are advanced in years or have been suffering from prolonged illness. We shall not be unprepared for it if we have tried all our lives to be faithful to Christ and to our Christian faith.

       This holy season of Advent is an opportune time for each one of us to look into his life and see how he stands with God. Christmas should remind us of the second coming of Christ, which will be very soon for all of us. Let us ask today: how would I fare if I were called from this world today? Could I expect to get honors, or even a pass, in my examination? Would I meet Christ as a loving brother and Savior or as a stern judge who would be forced to condemn me? If, in all honesty, most of us would find much lacking in our preparedness, we have still time to put things right. While we are in this world, God is not a stern judge but a merciful Father. He is ever ready to welcome the prodigal son provided the prodigal returns home. Today is the day to return to God. Today is the day in which to decide our future eternal state. There may be no tomorrow.

By Father Kevin, who was professor of Sacred Scripture at Christ the King Seminary and St. Bonaventure University in N.Y. and later in the National Seminary, Pretoria, South Africa and as a pastoral priest in Ireland.

Have a wonderful beginning of Advent