2nd Sun C Advent
Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.
This Sunday's Reflection
Repentance is a tricky business – it’s not that we don’t hear the call to repentance - the issue is: just what should we be repenting from? Our human tendency is to justify behaviours in which we have become set and to criticise behaviour we are unlikely to practice. So, the wowser attacks alcohol and the drunk justifies the drink. Or, as we see in the Gospel, the religious leaders are attacked by John for adhering to a cornerstone of their faith: they are descendants of Abraham! They must have thought John insane when he said this. It is like saying to a devout Catholic, ‘You put too much store on having a Pope and Tradition.’ When we look at John’s next two criticisms of these people, we get some sense of where their fault lay. Firstly, their faith had to produce fruit: actions showing that Abraham truly was their Father. Parroting a tenet of faith wasn’t enough: they had to do works of faith. Secondly, faith had to be lived, here, now. Working out the time of future judgment was a waste of time. These two criticisms give us some insight into how we can discern how we should repent in our own lives.
Repentance is a transformation of mind and heart. It begins with having a sense of what needs to be transformed. Looking into our own mind and heart is even more difficult than knowing what one looks like without the aid of a mirror. But we have our actions to show us. We need to take stock of what we actually do and ask: In whom or in what am I putting my faith when I act like this? This could feel difficult and elusive, like trying to catch the wind…except for our conscience. This is that still small voice that every now and then undermines our ready assertions and our smug actions. Give it a hearing and it can become a genuine force for transformation. Secondly, we need to really ask ourselves where we are time-wise in our lives. The tendency to dwell on past and future at the exclusion of living in the present with God undermines our capacity to allow the transformative power of repentance some traction in our lives. The only change that can take place is here, now. On the basis of those two attitudes, listening to our conscience and living in the present, we will have the foundation to allow the Kingdom of God to transform our minds and hearts.