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Thought for the week - 12 December

It’s an interesting statistic that according to industry’s own figures, over 50% of gym memberships go completely unused. That’s amazing, and even if this is an overestimate, a huge number of people pay a lot of money because they feel they need to exercise, but still don’t do it! There are other similar statistics, including from Weight-watchers, who admit that 30% of people who sign up give up after less than three months but keep on paying.

We know this is so silly. But it’s fairly common in other ways too.

Today at mass, just like at every mass, we began by making a general confession. We say the words, but do we mean them? Do they make a difference to us? Do we recollect before we say the words? Do the words have any effect on the way we live?

In our Gospel today John the Baptist makes some less than comfortable things very clear. First he reminds us that Advent is not just a time to think about the past - it is a time to look forward. We must remember that Advent and Christmas is not just about remembering Jesus coming in the past, but that he will come again. At the next coming he will not arrive as a vulnerable baby, but rather as a king and judge. We shall each of us be judged for the way we have lived our life.

John reminds us that repentance must be accompanied by action. Turning to Christ means turning away from a former life, saying sorry for something isn’t enough, action needs to be taken to put things right. This is certainly true in formal confession to a priest; it is the basis of the penance offered by the priest and accepted by the penitent. It may be simply a small step in the right direction, but it is a start.

“ And the crowds asked (John), ‘What then should we do?’ 11In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ 12Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ 13He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ 14Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

These are real actions.

How about today then? What were you thinking of as you made your general confession?

What ever it was, what are the actions you will take?


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