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December 2, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In “Advent,” which means “coming,” we focus on the coming of Christ at the end of time, and then on His first coming at Christmas. Advent is marked by the joy of His coming, but also by the strong warning that we must be prepared for it, as individuals and as a community.

Hence, a key theme of Advent is repentance.

John the Baptizer prepared the people for the coming of Christ by proclaiming repentance, so the Church prepares the world for his second coming by likewise proclaiming, and opening the way for, repentance.

The third chapter of Matthew's gospel begins, “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'”

He says, furthermore, continuing the quote from Isaiah, “Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth” (Luke 3:5).

Christ's coming ushers in the final triumph of life over death. The preparation for that coming, therefore, includes repentance from the works of death, including abortion. Not only individuals but nations likewise need to repent. This repentance includes living with active respect for every human life, and building a society of justice and welcome for the most vulnerable.

“Prepare the way of the Lord”, who is a God of Justice. “Every valley shall be filled” — the valleys where people languish because their rights are trampled, their dignity forgotten, and their lives thrown onto the outskirts of society. “Every mountain and hill shall be made low” — the mountains of pride whereby we think our own choices determine what is right and wrong, rather than submitting our choices to the truth that became visible when Christ was born.

Promoting justice and human rights is a key element of our preparation. A society that aborts its children is not prepared for the coming of Christ. Individuals who ignore the massive slaughter of tens of millions of babies are not prepared to welcome the God who became a little baby.

Nor are they prepared to welcome the gifts the baby brings. To welcome Christ is to welcome the one who teaches the Gospels, establishes his Church, and brings us the Eucharist and the other sacraments. Some want to welcome Christ only by welcoming the baby, but not staying around long enough to hear what he has to say or receive what he comes to bring.

Advent repentance means we are to open our Christmas gifts: accept the teachings of the Church which the newborn child founded as an adult, utilize the sacrament of penance to receive his forgiveness, accept the grace that enables us to repent of sin, receive him in the Eucharist faithfully, and let him work through us to build a society of justice and a culture of life.