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Friday, December 16, 2016

Time to Repent! The Axe Lies at the Root of the Trees

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Second Sunday in Advent, Dec. 4, 2016
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

As we come together on this Second Sunday of Advent, let us listen to the words of Saint
St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness
by Bartolome Esteban Murillo
John the Baptist in today’s Gospel.(Matthew 3:1-12)
Saint John the Baptist  -- considered the greatest prophet by Our Lord Jesus Christ -- 
was the real deal. He was passionate for God!  He was the last prophet of the prophets of the Old Testament and therefore would become the bridge between the Old and the New Testaments. 

Mary vistis Elizabeth. John is
sanctified in his mother's womb
He was filled with the Holy Spirit from the time he was in his mother’s womb, and he would let nothing stop him from his mission to prepare the way of Our Lord Jesus Christ. 

We hear of Saint John the Baptist’s mission in today’s Gospel passage as he sets out into the desert of Judea. He is “the voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” 

Yet, let us be reminded that God called John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord Jesus in His first coming, but his mission is not ended. His message of repentance and conversion is even more vital for us today as we await the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ who will come in all His glory to judge heaven and earth!

Therefore, the proclamation of John the Baptist for repentance and conversion needs to be proclaimed today with even more passion and zeal.

For, our Lord Jesus is coming again soon! “His winnowing fan [will be] in his hand! He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire!”

Fr John Paul Shea 
My brothers and sisters, let us not underestimate the importance of Saint John the Baptist’s proclamation in today’s Gospel!

The call for repentance and conversion is the central mission of our Church and it always has been. This is why  Jesus called His disciples -- to proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand and we need to believe in the Gospel! Yet, it seems today that many in our Church are losing sight of this message.
The reality is that many souls are lost today because of sin. Sin is everywhere! Immorality is degrading humanity and is destroying the life within many souls. 

The sanctity of marriage has become widely disregarded. Our society now accepts and encourages sexual relationships between two men or two women. Person’s cohabitate and have sex outside marriage continually. Pornography is watched on a regular basis in many households. Adultery flourishes. The Lord’s sacred Sabbath is ignored by the majority, and many simply put their own desires and entertainment before God! 

Yet, with all the sin that is taking toll on so many souls, where is the proclamation of the message of John the Baptist in our world today that says repent? Where is the proclamation of John the Baptist in our Church today that says,
“Turn away for sin, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?”

Instead of proclaiming the message of repentance, it seems as if our Church today is more concerned with proclaiming a message of tolerance, acceptance, accompaniment, and discernment. It seems that more and more Catholics today are more concerned with appeasing the world than saving souls.

Yet, what does Saint John the Baptist say? He says, “You brood of vipers… Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance” and do not presume God’s mercy!” 

The need for repentance and conversion cannot be underestimated. The message of John the Baptist of the need for repentance and conversion is more important today than ever!

For the reality is that there is a hell. There is eternal damnation, and many souls are in jeopardy. Many have forgotten about God, and many who do acknowledge God presume His mercy. 

Therefore, let us acknowledge the seriousness of the words of Saint John the Baptist in today’s Gospel passage. For Our Lord Jesus is coming again soon to judge heaven and earth.
“Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees,” and “every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire!”

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us!

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