Fourth Sunday of Advent (C)

Today we celebrate the fourth and final Sunday of Advent.  The Church gives us the season of Advent as an opportunity to prepare our hearts.  All year long, we should be preparing our hearts.  Our entire life is really a preparation for the next life.  This world is not our homeland.  This life is a time of testing; it is a time of preparation.  Our ultimate goal, of course, is Heaven.  We were made for union with God; we were made to be with God forever.

In order to attain to our goal, we have to remain faithful to the Lord.  Sin is a slippery slope; the more we sin, the more we want to sin.  Saint Thomas Aquinas said that attachment to sin is the first punishment for sin.  Once a sin is committed, it is easier to commit that sin again, and again, and again.  Eventually the sin becomes a habit, and habits can be very hard to break.

We know that sin never makes us happy.  Sin separates us from God, Whom we are to love above all things.  Sin also damages my relationships with others.  Nothing good comes from sinning, and yet once started down the path of sin, it can be very difficult to break free from sin.  Sin enslaves.  Our culture will tell you that laws and rules keep you from being free.  Just the opposite is true.  Only Truth can set you free, and Jesus Christ IS the Truth.

Only by having a real relationship with Jesus Christ can you ever find fulfillment in this life.  Only by following Jesus Christ, Who IS the Way, will you ever find your way home to Heaven.  Jesus, Himself, told us that the road to perdition [Hell] is wide and that many go there.  Why do many refuse to follow Jesus Christ?  It is much easier to buy into the lie that is temptation.  Sin offers immediate gratification.  The problem is, after we have sinned, we are miserable.  Remaining faithful to God can be difficult; especially in the midst of a culture which is hostile towards our Catholic Faith.  Everywhere we look in the media, we are bombarded with images and ideas that are contrary to our Faith.  It was not without reason that John Paul II called the culture in which we live the Culture of Death.  The culture not only promotes death, it leads to everlasting death.

We need to be vigilant and remain close to Christ every day of our lives.  We need to constantly be on our guard against temptation; and we need to go to confession as often and as soon as we fall into serious sin.  The Church, in her wisdom, knows that it is difficult to be on guard always.  That is why the Church gives us specific seasons in which she calls us to renew our efforts and recommit ourselves to working to root sin out of our lives.

During this Advent season, the Church calls us to focus on getting sin out of our lives and thus preparing our hearts for the celebration of the Birth of Our Savior at Christmas.  The greatest gift that God gave us is the gift of His Son.  The gift that we give in return is the gift of ourselves.  We are all called to give our whole heart to God; we were made to love God.  We are all called to be Saints.  Advent is a time set aside for us to examine our hearts and rid ourselves of whatever it is that comes in the way of our union with the Lord.  Let us use the remaining days of Advent to prepare our hearts for the Lord.

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