It's hard to keep hope alive when you're poor or oppressed
or running away
from war and violence.
Today we hear the prophet Baruch
speaking to the
people living in diaspora,
scattered about the Middle East
escaped exile in Babylonia.
They're refugees, living in a strange
out of Babylon but still in exile.
Baruch tells them to have
“Look east,” he tells them, toward the dawn, to a new day!
hear Paul responding to rumors he has heard
about troubles in Philippi.
encourages the community there
to look forward with hope to “the day of Jesus
Sadly, by the time Paul's
gets to us here in the 21st century,
we're told that it refers to
an apocalyptic “Second Coming,”
Jesus flying in on a cloud at the end of the
But that's not what it meant to Paul and the people of
For them, “the day of Jesus Christ” meant the day
would have reached Christian maturity.
Most of them, Paul wrote, would still
be alive on earth
when the whole community had advanced in spiritual
to the “parousia,” literally, the presence.
That is, on “the day of
we will be present to God and God to us.
We'll be following
the Way Jesus taught.
We will live in peace with justice.
Our hopes will
have been fulfilled.
It's not only
Baruch's and Paul's words that we need to decipher.
In the Gospel we hear
John the Baptist
preaching about a baptism of “repentance
forgiveness of sins.”
Luke has the Baptist quote Isaiah, with hope for
saying that all people will see the salvation of God.
words “repentance” and “salvation”
don't speak to us the way they did to
For those folks, salvation meant
deliverance from the
ways of their oppressors
by following the Way that Jesus of Nazareth
Repentance—the Greek word is metanoia—
meant turning around,
literally “going beyond the mind.”
Our mind has a tendency to see our own
experiences as truth,
so our own sins become part of who we are
sins of others become part of who they are.
We are all
Metanoia—repentance—means that we begin to pay attention
our mind tends to treat our sins as virtues
and turn away from that kind of
thinking and acting.
I know how that works firsthand, so I'll give an
not a serious one, but one that will help explain what I mean.
went through a red light the other day.
I wasn't even through the
when I had already sorted out
the best of three good
for why it wasn't bad or even wrong.
But when I see someone else
go through a red light—
or do something even less flagrant,
like a rolling
stop at the corner—
my mind condemns them
When we realize we've
chosen to do something we shouldn't have,
or not do something we should
we too often think the question
is whether or not God will forgive
Of course, God forgives us.
God is unconditional loving
The real question is how to see clearly what we are doing
we can turn ourselves around.
It's easier to be good and do good
people around you love you
and help you along the way.
Again, I know that
from personal experience.
Whenever we gather here at Holy Spirit,
it's two of us or forty of us,
the experience of celebrating with
inspires me to be as good as I can and do as much as I can
the Way of Jesus more closely.
Your example helps me become a better
This past week I've been
reading a book by New York Times writers
Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl
about people who have turned their lives around
and gone on to help
others do the same.
The title of the book, A Path Appears,
Chinese author Lu Xun, who wrote:
“Hope is like a path in the
Originally, there is nothing—
but as people walk this way
again and again,
a path appears.”
We who have hitched our wagon to
follow the path he walked—
that path known to our ancestors in faith
as “the Way.”
Again and again, whenever they strayed—
and whenever we
we try to get back on the path,
try to turn around and head in the
or as Luke puts it, we work on
that transformative change
of mind and heart, metanoia.
the centuries our institutional Church
has developed various methods to call
us to metanoia
and different rituals for us to celebrate God's forgiveness.
them are best left in the dustbin of history.
A few of them are
The practice of the Church today, I think,
too rarely takes
advantage of the instruction
in the Rite of Penance that tells the priest “to
adapt the rite
to the concrete circumstances of the penitents,”
some parts or expanding them,
so “the entire celebration may be enriching and
Bishop Daniel has asked
the priests of the Diocese
to to vary the form of the Lord, Have Mercy
at the beginning of Mass throughout Advent and Lent
in keeping with
Pope Francis' proclamation of a Jubilee,
or Holy Year, of Mercy,
we try to model renewal of our Roman Catholic Church,
we'll go a little farther than changing those few sentences.
After the homily
on the weekend Masses of Advent and Lent
we will celebrate God's merciful
with the traditional Sacrament of Reconciliation
slightly modified Rite 3, the Rite for Reconciliation
of Several Penitents
with General Confession and
So let's begin today by
repenting of our sins
and resolving to try to do better
and to make up as
well as we can
for harm we have caused by doing wrong.
For our penance let
us, in the coming week,
try to be mindful of any ways
that we are stepping
off the path that Jesus showed us.
Now let all of us who wish to receive
bow our heads to acknowledge that we have
Now let us make our confession
by lifting our minds and
hearts in a silent prayer of contrition,
using our own thoughts
or one of
the prayers printed in the bulletin.
ACT of CONTRITION
Loving God, I have
sinned and I am sorry. In your mercy, forgive me
for choosing to do wrong and
neglecting to do right. I will try to do
better. May I become more aware of
your divine presence in my sisters
and brothers, in all of creation, and in
my own self. Help me to
follow more closely the Way that Jesus taught.
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I
all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all
they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all
love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more
to avoid the near occasions of sin.
My God, I am sorry for my
sins with all my heart. In choosing to do
wrong and failing to do good, I
have sinned against you whom I should
love above all things. I firmly intend,
with your help, to do penance,
to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me
to sin. Our Savior
Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my
O my God, I am sorry for my sins because I have
offended you. I know I
should love you, O my God, I am heartily sorry for
you, and I detest all my sins, because of Your just
most of all because they offend You, my God, who are
deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of
grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.
Priest: Our loving and merciful God,
through the life and ministry of our brother Jesus
has reconciled the
world and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of
through the ministry of the Church,
may God give you pardon and
and you are absolved from your sins,
in the name of our God, Source
of All Being,
Father-Mother, Son, and Holy Spirit. All: Amen.
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle,
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006