A teacher was explaining to her grade school students the value of cleanliness and a healthy lifestyle. She placed four worms in separate jars. The first worm was put into a jar of alcohol. The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke. The third worm was put into a jar filled with soda. The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil.
The children saw with their own eyes the results: the first worm in alcohol - dead. The second worm in cigarette smoke - dead. The third worm in soda - dead. The forth worm in good clean soil - alive!
So the teacher asked: “Class, what is the lesson you get from this experiment?” A boy quickly raised his hand and said, “Now I know that as long as you drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and drink soda, you won’t have a worm in your body!”
Many people today are health conscious and that is a good thing. After all, the body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. However, while people take care of their body, there is not enough attention given to one’s spiritual health and well-being. Such is the fruit of the culture of materialism in the world. People give importance to the physical and material, but neglect the spiritual.
Today we meet John the Baptist, and his mission is to prepare the way of the Lord. This is all about internal and spiritual preparation. Reflecting on our Scripture readings we see that the first element of the preparation is faith. We must be sure that our belief in the coming of the Lord is firm and strong. As Advent people we wait with patience and prayer. As St. Padre Pio said, “Prayer is the oxygen of our soul.”
The second element is humility. We follow the example of John the Baptist, “I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.” Knowing that we are sinners, we bow our heads in sorrow, yet full of hope in a merciful and loving God. Humility is an essential element in our preparing to meet the Lord.
The third element is repentance. John proclaims, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” As we wait for the Lord, we look at ourselves, and humbly admit our sinfulness and unworthiness. Unfortunately this element is missing among many people today, because we have lost a sense of sin in our lives and in our world.
This Advent Season offers us the opportunity to encounter the Lord in history, in mystery, and to await him in glory. As we prayed in our Opening Prayer of Mass today, “Almighty and merciful God, may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son, but may our learning of heavenly wisdom gain us admittance to his company.” May our Advent Season truly be a time of deep spiritual preparation and renewal, so that, come Christmas Day we will experience the presence of the Lord in a new and wonderful way.
- Father Dennis, December 6, 2020