December 2019- Bring Forth Fruits Worthy of Repentance

December 2019- Bring Forth Fruits Worthy of Repentance

Happy New Year. December 1, 2019 brings us to the beginning of the 2019-2020 Liturgical year with the holy season of Advent. Saint John the Baptist in the spirit of Elias told the people to bring forth fruits worthy of penance. (Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8) The word translated as penance in the Douay-Rheims in other places is translated as repentance. How many of us connect penance with repentance?


Advent, Septuagesima and Lent are penitential seasons. As such, they serve as a preparation for the great feasts of the Nativity of our Lord and His Resurrection. And so, just what is a penitent? A penitent is anyone, who has committed one or more mortal sins and then repented of them. One priest about a century ago remarked that eighty-five percent of the saints were penitents, so we are in good company.


We are all called to be saints, and some of the saints said that in these times the greatest saints would live. If you are reading this, then God is calling you to be one of these saints. We cannot live a life of mediocrity, today calls for heroic sanctity. David lamented many centuries ago: "Save me, O Lord, for there is now no saint: truths are decayed from among the children of men." (Psalms 11:2) We also read this lament at the end of the day on many Ferias- 3 (Tuesday's) in the Office of Compline where this psalm is read.


God is calling us to re-examine ourselves this liturgical year. God is calling us to repentance of our sins, which calls us to heed advice Jesus gave on two occasions: "Go now and sin no more." (John 8:11; John 5:14) This Advent we have three and a half weeks before the Nativity of our Lord to complete our 'Christmas shopping.' Jesus wants our whole heart, soul, mind, body and strength for His holy Birthday. Why are we still holding back? And yes, we are holding back. We need to examine our self carefully on this, because it is time to turn over a new leaf and become saints and stop holding back part of ourselves for our own pleasure and out of selfishness.


This is a two step process, conversion, which brings on repentance. Conversion is a complete change of customs and habits. Instead of living a worldly life, we begin living with one foot already in heaven. Saint Paul told the Romans (12:1-2): "I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God."


And so let us bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, beginning today.