Today's second reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans reminds us: "Every thing that was written long ago in the scriptures was meant to teach us something about hope from the examples scripture gives of how people who did not give up were helped by God". St Paul speaks about hope. One of the characteristics of Advent is that it is a time of hope. What is hope? We usually and very frequently use this word but today is a good opportunity to remember what the Christian virtue of hope is. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: "A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good". Hope is the theological virtue that disposes "Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity".
Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness. At this point we need ask ourselves: Really, do I desire the kingdom of heaven like this person in today's gospel reading?
Today's gospel shows us John the Baptist a person who has the capacity to preach very well and with success about the kingdom of heaven: "Then Jerusalem and all Judaea and the whole Jordan district made their way to him". But we need to remember that John the Baptist was a very unconventional person, as Matthew's gospel reminds us : "This man John wore a garment made of camel-hair with a leather belt round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey". Why did people from different cities and districts make their way to John the Baptist? He didn't preach about pleasant or poplar things, he didn't speak about how good these people are and that they live correct lives. This was his message: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand".
Today, the second Sunday of Advent we need listen carefully to this voice:
"A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight".
Why did John the Baptist use this expression: A voice cries in the wilderness? and why is this expression is so relevant today? If we analyze our life we can diagnose that it's very difficult change our life, it's also very difficult even if we want to so. This is because we have in our life too many voices to distract us and therefore we aren't able to listen carefully the voice of God. But today, the second Sunday of Advent we are called to recognize and listen to the correct voice which will lead us to the way of the Lord.
But, dear brothers and sisters, paying attention to this voice is not sweet, is not tranquil, is not serene. It is a voice which cries in the wilderness. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand". "Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight, and all mankind shall see the salvation of God".
If we observe carefully in today's gospel John the Baptist is very insulting when he speaks to the Pharisees and Sadducees. Why he is so harsh? Because these were the people who followed strict religious customs without seeking repentance. John the Baptist asked them and today asks us: "If you are repentant, produce the appropriate fruit".
If we want be ready for Christmas, if we want be ready for coming of the Lord we need produce the appropriate fruit that can prove this: Yes, I'm truly ready to believe in Jesus Christ. But the condition for this is repentance, changing my life.
John the Baptist reminds us: "I baptise you in water for repentance, but the one who follows me is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire".
Advent is a time when we are waiting but not in a passive mode, our waiting for Christ must be active; what is mandatory for us is repentance. That is possible if we acknowledge our sins and confess them . That is today's message which we try to practice with Christian Hope.