2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C – 15
Bar.5:1-9, Phil.1:4-6, 8-11, Lk.3:1-6
Once upon a time, there was a king who ruled a prosperous country. One day, he went for a trip to some distance areas of his country. When he came back to his Palace, he complained that his feet were very sore, because it was the first time that he went for such a long trip, and the road that he went through was very rough and stony.
He then ordered his people to cover every road of the entire country with leather. Definitely, this would need skins of thousands of animals, and would cost a huge amount of money. Then one of his wise advisors dared to tell the king,
“Why do you have to spend unnecessary amount of money? Why don’t you just cut a little piece of leather to cover your feet? The king was surprised, but he later agreed to his suggestion to make a “shoe” for himself.
We are aware of how bad this world has become. We don’t feel safe anymore. We don’t know whom to trust. There are crimes and killings everywhere. We could only wish people would change so that this world would become a better place to live in.
But we forget that these problems are just reflections of what is in our hearts. If we say, “I wish people would change so that this world would change” is like covering the roads with animals’ skin so that we can walk smoothly.
But if we say, “I will change myself so that this world could change” is like putting shoes on our feet – more practical, more realistic, and more attainable. We have heard wise people saying: “Change your thinking and change your world.
Why do we have to change our thinking? Because, we are victims of our thinking. When we change our thinking, we change our lives. Look at the progression this sets in motion. When you change your thinking, you change your beliefs; when you change your beliefs, you change your expectations;
When you change your expectations, you change your attitude; when you change your attitude, you change your behavior; when you change your behavior, you change your performance; when you change your performance, you change your life! When you control your thinking, you can have greater control over your lives.
So how do you change your beliefs? The answer is by thinking and praying about your thoughts. You have already chosen your beliefs. The question is, will you choose to evaluate them in the light of prayer and change them if necessary? It is up to you.
Audrey Vines is the author of the book: “Change your Thinking, Change Your World.” She says, “Where there is hope there is change. I hope and I can change. My greatest power is changing the way I think. I will open my mind to clear thinking.
I will not allow dark thoughts to rule my life. I will change my thinking and I will change my world. We need to realize that whatever situations we are in we have in some way contributed to them. Albert Einstein says, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. Only when we change our thoughts about a situation will our behavior and results change.”
This advent, let us open up ourselves to getting out of our defeatist thinking. Let us rise to conquer our fears and rediscover how we can enjoy our life. Success and happiness are not accidents; they are the end result of the person’s ability to think positively.
No one can make us change, but we can have a profound influence on our own choices. John the Baptist is crying out: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His path.” Definitely, it is not the Lord’s paths that need to be straightened out but it is our paths to be straightened.
A soap manufacturer and a pastor were walking together down a street in a large city. The soap manufacturer casually said, “The Gospel you preach hasn’t done much good, has it? Just observe. There is still a lot of wickedness in the world, and a lot of wicked people, too!”
The pastor made no reply until they passed a dirty little child making mud pies in the gutter. Seizing the opportunity, the pastor said, “I see that soap hasn’t done much good in the world either; for there is much dirt still here, and many dirty people are still around.”
The soap man said, “Oh, well, soap only works when it is applied.” And the pastor said, “Exactly! So it is with the Gospel.” What are the things that need to be straightened in our lives? Each individual only can answer that question.
Perhaps one area could be our twisted and tangled relationships. We let misunderstandings run on from year to year, meaning to clear them up some day. We keep quarrels alive because we cannot make up our minds to sacrifice our pride and end them.
We pass people sullenly, not speaking to them out of some silly spite. We let our dear ones starve for love and understanding. So, if there is some crooked attitude, or some crooked way of behaving, or some crooked relationship that needs to be straightened out, let us straighten it out.
Let us be the first to hold out the hand of reconciliation even though it gets slapped or rejected. Make friends with someone you are at odds with. Pick up the phone and talk to somebody you have not talked to in months or years.
Be willing to put some possessions on the line. Give, not out of your excess, but out of your substance. Great opportunities to help others seldom come but small ones surround us every day. It talks only a minute to be kind, but the prophet reminds us the end result can remain forever.
Willingness is the key to religion. It’s a matter of the will. It’s an act of choice. It’s like love. Love is something you choose to do. Affection is something you feel. Religion and seeking the Lord are something that you choose to do. Religious sentiment is something that you feel.
Repentance and conversion are conscious acts of our wills. They are free choices made with deliberation. They are not religious feelings or moods. They are not nice, warm, glowing, mystical feelings which come upon us before flickering candles in our churches.
Repentance and conversion are conscious will-acts made in the cold light of reality and in the hard choices of our everyday lives. To separate religion and religious choices and values from our day to day choices is to remove religion from reality.
Repentance and conversion are made out in the open, not in private. It is, after all, a question of vision. Are we willing to take a look? To acquire that vision? It’s all a matter of choosing. It’s never just a matter of feeling like it. It’s all a matter of conversion and repentance. It’s not up to God, it’s up to us.
Let us change our thinking, let us change our world. Amen.