2nd Sunday of Advent
John the Baptist’s call to prepare or the coming of Jesus makes clear the difference between John’s Baptism and the Baptism we have received. John’s Baptism is a baptism of repentance a confession of and a sign of sorrow for sin. The Baptism Jesus will bring, our Baptism is a Baptism that actually forgives and removes sin. This is the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit, John’s baptism was a sign of sorrow for sin, the new Baptism is a sign that actually takes away that sin.
The heart of all the Sacraments, those 7 special signs which actually do what they signify, is the Grace of God the Father, the Power of God the Holy Spirit and the Action of Jesus God the Son. This work of God is made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection.
In his death we have the perfect Sacrifice to God the Father to make up for sin, the perfect sign of love for God the Father, the perfect act of trust and obedience to God the Father. Jesus can offer this sacrifice because he is God, he can offer it on our behalf because he is man. And in the resurrection, we have the response of the Father to this Sacrifice, new life, the gift of the Holy Spirit, a place in heaven.
This wonderful exchange is offered to us at Holy Mass. Christ who gives himself for us on the cross, becomes present on the altar, and we are invited to join ourselves with his perfect sacrifice, his perfect sign of love, his perfect trust and obedience, a sacrifice we are incapable of making ourselves, but which united with the Church at Mass we can, and we are offered above all in Holy Communion the promise and foretaste of new life, forgiveness and resurrection, of unity with the Father in Heaven.
It is from Holy Mass that this wonderful exchange flows into the other Sacraments and it is to Mass that the other Sacraments lead. We are baptised and confirmed so that we can go to Mass and receive Holy Communion, Confession exists to prepare us to receive Holy Communion, Priests are ordained to offer the sacrifice of the Mass, when the dying are anointed it is recommended that they receive Holy Communion to strengthen them for the journey through death. A marriage is seen in all its wonder when a mother and father bring their children to Mass and by word and example prepare them for Holy Communion.
The Mass is the heart – that is why in normal times the Church has always interpreted the third commandment to keep holy the Lord’s Day as a serious obligation to attend Mass every Sunday.
We can remind ourselves that our Advent preparation is not just for the Lord coming at Christmas or at the end of time but coming now each day in Holy Communion.