The candle of the Second Sunday of Advent is called the Bethlehem Candle, which symbolizes FAITH. The prophet Micah foretold that Christ the Lord would be born in Bethlehem: “But you, O Bethlehem-Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2) This prophecy came to pass when Mary and Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem, and it was there that Jesus was born. With the gift of faith, we have come to believe this. In faith, we have come to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Prayer for the Second Week of Advent

O Lord, stir up our hearts that we may prepare for Thy only begotten Son, that through His coming we may be made worthy to serve Thee with pure minds through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Fruits of Repentance 

John the Baptist went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 3:3) He called out to the people: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2) At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. (Matthew 3:5-6) Even the Pharisees and Sadducees came; but he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” (cf. Matthew 3:7-9)

At that time, there were people who thought that because they were descendants of Abraham, they were already saved no matter how they lived. That would be kind of like many Christians today, who say that they are saved, but keep on living a sinful life. They have bought into the lie that “just because I think I’m saved, then I’m already saved.” But whether a person is a descendant of Abraham, or whether a person calls himself a Christian, really has no bearing on salvation, unless he repents.

Therefore, what constitutes true repentance? Is it just feeling sorry for one’s sins, or is it something more? Repentance is a radical reorientation of one’s whole life; it is a conversion and a return to God with all our heart; it is an end of one’s sinful ways, a turning away from evil, and a repugnance toward sin. At the same time, it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of His grace. (CCC 1431)

In the Advent season, we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas in a spiritual way. It makes so much sense that the predominant theme of Advent is repentance; just like John the Baptist was shouting “Repent!” and was preparing people for the coming of Christ. Jesus came down from heaven and was born into this world in order to save us. During His public life, He called people to repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17) But more than that, Jesus called people to believe in Him so that they may be saved; many sinners who came to Him and believed Him bore the fruits of repentance – they had a changed heart and a changed behavior.

Many people say, “I believe in Christ and I am willing to change, but I don’t see any progress. Am I doing something wrong?” For some people, it’s a process which takes time, patience and forbearance; for others, it is a sudden change due to a life-changing experience. But the fruits of repentance are not something we can force ourselves to achieve; it is always a grace that comes from above – in God’s time, in God’s way. In the meantime, we must not walk in darkness, because if we walk in the light of Christ, His blood cleanses us from all our sins. (cf. 1John 1:6-7)

The Book of the prophet Baruch encouraged the exiles from Babylon who were returning to Jerusalem. He proclaimed: “Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on forever the splendor of glory from God: Wrapped in the mantle of justice from God, place on your head the diadem of the glory of the Eternal One.” (Baruch 5:1-2) These same words provide encouragement to the exiles from sin who are returning to God. 

GIVING TUESDAY We were able to surpass our goal for Giving Tuesday this year. These funds will be used to fix the flooding caused by slow drainage flow at the front part of the church. Thanks be to God and thank you to all our donors.    

Immediately after Mass today, Fr. Bill will administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick in the main church.

Saint Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) is coming to our church on Christmas Day! Just a reminder to parents and other gift-givers: Please label your gifts and place them under the Christmas Tree, so that Santa Claus can give out the gifts after Mass.