“None of us can say, ‘I’m a saint; I’m perfect; I’m already saved.’ No. We should always accept this offer of salvation, and that’s what the Year of Mercy is for” – Francis December 6, 2015
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
On this second Sunday of Advent, the liturgy places us in the school of John the Baptist, who preached a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” And perhaps we ask ourselves, “Why do we have to convert? Conversion is for an atheist who becomes a believer or a sinner who becomes just. But we don’t need it. We are already Christian.”
We can ask ourselves this and in this regard say, “we’re ok.” But that’s not true. Thinking like this, we don’t realize that it is precisely because of this presumption — that we are Christians, good in every way, that we’re doing the right thing — precisely because of this presumption we must convert: from the supposition that, overall, things are going well like they are and we don’t need any conversion.
But let us ask: Is it true that in the various situations and circumstances of life, we have in us the same sentiments that Jesus had? Is it true that we feel as Christ felt? For example, when we suffer some evil or some affront, can we react without animosity and forgive from the heart those who ask us for forgiveness? How difficult it is to forgive, eh? How difficult! “You’re going to pay for this” — that phrase comes spontaneously, yes? Or when we are called to share joys and sadnesses, do we know how to truly cry with the one who cries and rejoice with the one who rejoices? Or when we should share our faith, do we know how to do it with courage and simplicity, without being ashamed of the Gospel? And in this way, we can ask ourselves so many questions. We’re not alright. We should always convert, to have the sentiments that Jesus had.
The voice of the Baptist still cries in humanity’s deserts of today, which are — what are the deserts of today? — they are the closed minds and the hardened hearts. And [his voice] calls us so that we ask ourselves if we actually are following the right path, living a life according to the Gospel. Today, as then, he admonishes us with the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord!” It is a pressing invitation to open the heart and receive the salvation that God incessantly offers, almost stubbornly, because he wants us all to be free of the slavery of sin. But the text of the prophet amplifies this voice, pre-announcing that “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” And salvation is offered to every man, and every people, without excluding anyone, to each one of us. None of us can say, “I’m a saint; I’m perfect; I’m already saved.” No. We should always accept this offer of salvation, and that’s what the Year of Mercy is for: to advance farther in this journey of salvation, this path that Jesus has taught us. God wants all mankind to be saved through the mediation of Jesus, the only mediator.
Therefore, each one of us is called to make Jesus known to those who still do not know him. But this is not to proselytize. No. It is to open a door. “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” St. Paul declared. If Our Lord Jesus has changed our lives, and he changes it every time we draw close to him, how can we not feel a passion to make him known to those we find at work, at school, in our communities, in the hospital, in meeting places? If we look around us, we find people who would be disposed to beginning — or beginning again — a journey of faith if they were to find Christians who are in love with Jesus. Shouldn’t we be and couldn’t we be these Christians?
I leave you with this question: Am I truly in love with Jesus? Am I convinced that Jesus offers me and gives me salvation? And, if I am in love, I have to make him known! But we should be courageous: make low the mountains of pride and rivalry; fill in the valleys dug by indifference and apathy; make straight the pathways of our laziness and our comforts.
May we be aided in this by Our Lady — who is Mother and who knows how to do it — to bring down the walls and the obstacles that impede our conversion, that is, our journey toward the encounter with the Lord. He alone. Only Jesus can fulfill all the hopes of man!