Repentance and Reconciliation – Advent Calendar/Jesse Tree Reflection for Dec. 20

Dec. 20 (Person – John the Baptist, Symbol – Scallop Shell)

“I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.  I am not worthy to carry his sandals.  He will baptize with the holy Spirit and fire.”

Read: Luke 1:57-80; Matt 3:1-12

Baciccio, “The Preaching of St. John the Baptist” Courtesy of Web Gallery of Art

Reflection: John the Baptist told the people to “repent” in order to prepare for Christ’s coming.  Do you know what it means to repent?  To “repent” means to recognize our sins (our wrong choices), to tell God that we are sorry, and to ask Him to forgive us.

Remember when we talked about Adam and Eve?  We talked about how our sins separate us from God and prevent us from having a close relationship with Him.   We want to have the closest relationship with Him that we possibly can, right?   In fact, we want Jesus to be our best friend!   Our friendship with Him will always be strongest when we try not to sin.  When we do sin, it is important that we tell God we are sorry, ask Him to forgive us, and ask for His help to avoid sinning again.

As Catholics, we know that the season of Advent is an important time to do exactly as John the Baptist taught – to repent and make our hearts ready for Christ’s coming.   For those of us who are old enough, this is a very important time to participate in Reconciliation.  In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we speak to a priest, who is “in persona Christi,” which means that, in that moment, he becomes Christ for us, so that the priest can do for us what only Christ can do – forgive our sins.  This is such a wonderful sacrament!  Sometimes it is a little scary to tell our sins to another person, but then the priest says the words of absolution, “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”   With those words, we are restored to our close friendship with Jesus, and it feels fantastic!  (Parents, share your own feelings after receiving Reconciliation.  Mine go something like this: “My heart soars with joy, and I feel a huge weight lifted from my shoulders!”  Invite older children to share their experiences as well.)

You may not be old enough to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but all of us can repent.  Let’s think quietly for a moment about things we might have done that made God unhappy and hurt our friendship with Jesus.

Let’s pray: My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.  In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.  I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid the things which lead me to sin.  Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.  In His name, my God, have mercy.

Now, we promised to do penance, right?  That means to perform a prayer or good act to show that we are sorry for our sins.   Let’s pray an Our Father and a Hail Mary for our penance…

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