Preparing Our Hearts-Week Three
December 14, 2014
Today I present my third homily on Preparing Our Hearts. Last week, we learned that we prepare our hearts by repentance. Repentance can be a dramatic experience. It involves accepting Jesus as our personal savior and welcoming him into our hearts. It involves making a sincere confession. We also learned that repentance is a
. It involves learning from our mistakes and growing. If we are not learning from our mistakes, and if we are blaming others rather than accepting responsibility for our mistakes, then we slide back. Repentance allows us to grow, and the Christian disciple has to do whatever he or she can to keep growing.
Today, I would like to talk about giving our hearts and lives to Jesus. It is easy for us to drift about aimlessly. Some of you may remember the old 1960’s song “Sha la la la live for today, and don’t worry about tomorrow.” It is easy for us to give in to that type of thinking and forget that there is indeed something else beyond earthly life.
Many people believe in reincarnation, and some say that the New Testament teaches reincarnation. They point to Jesus who says that John the Baptist is “Elijah, the one who is to come.” (Mt 11:14). Today, however, when John is asked, “Are you Elijah?” he responds, “I am not.”
How do we reconcile these two verses? How can John the Baptist be Elijah? Think of it this way. The pope is always Peter, even though he has a different name. This is not because the pope becomes a different person. Rather, it is because Pope Francis is fulfilling the role of Peter, just as John the Baptist is fulfilling the role of Elijah. Elijah called the people of his generation to repentance, and John does the same. John calls his generation-and ours-to repentance.
The call to repentance is urgent. This life is the one chance we have to repent. Remember what Jesus tells us-that after death there will be a judgment-and there are only two possible outcomes: heaven or hell.
I wish I could say everything will be all right, do not worry, you have plenty of time to repent, and that no one ends up in hell. I cannot say these things because Jesus never said them. In fact, he said the opposite. He spoke often of hell. Realize, though, that Jesus does not want us to go there. He wants us to be in heaven. He calls us to choose heaven, and to choose it
, because, after all, we know not the day nor the hour when the Lord will call us home. Remember, when we repent of our sins, we choose heaven.
This is the message of John the Baptist: we have one shot at life-a life that can end at any time. Repent! Prepare your heart for Jesus.
John is a great example for us today. Not only does he preach repentance, he lives humbly. In doing so, he illustrates how we are to prepare our hearts for Jesus. The first step involves giving of ourselves. John was a very talented man-a good preacher, an excellent student, and a prayerful, devout man. He used those talents for the good of his people. In fact, his investment of his talents made him the greatest prophet of his generation-the last and greatest prophet. Nevertheless, John exemplifies something else that is very important-the virtue of humility. John was the greatest man of his generation, and yet he did not feel worthy of untying Jesus’ sandal strap.
Humility does not mean hiding our gifts or burying them, but it does mean acknowledging them and remembering anything you and I can offer pales in comparison to what God can give.
Today, John the Baptist shares with us the urgency of repentance, and reminds us that this life is the only shot we have for repenting and preparing our hearts for Jesus. We do this by following St. John’s example of self-giving and humility. Remember that repentant disciples are, in the end, are the ones who grow. It takes humility to repent, but humility that enables us to rejoice.