In today’s Gospel (Luke 3:1-6), we find St. John the Baptist on the banks of the river Jordan as a preacher of penance. Great multitudes of people flocked to see and hear the extraordinary prophet. He preached with the power and zeal of an Elias, and threatened with the judgments of God, unless they should bring forth fruit worthy of penance. Besides penance, he preached baptism as the beginning and dedication of a new and better life, and as an illustration of the necessity of the interior purification from sin. To give more emphasis to what he preached, John lived a life of poverty and discomfort. Scripture tells us, "He wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.” (Matt. 3:4).
Today, we see this same preaching of penance, but so few listen to this call. Why is this? Has repentance become less important in today’s world? Obviously this is not the case, we have just failed to understand its importance. We ourselves need the example of John the Baptist as a wake up call. Often today our priests do not even preach penance and, when they do, often they may be living comfortable lives in a large parish, not living as an example like John.
How then can we remedy this? We must become the example. Those who understand the everlasting importance of repentance with penance must be the precursor to the Word, we must be like John the Baptist in preparation for Christ. We must live our lives as visible examples of penance. This does not mean to be like the Pharisees with our prayer, but rather to never allow someone we know to go without an understanding of Confession, penance, and reparation and their utmost importance in our lives in preparation for Christ.
Roráte cœli désuper, et nubes pluant justum: aperiátur terra, et gérminet Salvatórem. Cœli enárrant glóriam Dei: et opera mánuum ejus annúntiat firmaméntum. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sǽcula sæculórum.