My favorite self-help course was Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In it Stephen Covey focuses not on techniques, but character. The first habit for developing character is Be Proactive. Covey explains it this way:
Reactive people are driven by feelings, circumstances, conditions, the environment. Proactive people are driven by carefully considered, selected and internalized values. Taking the initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious, or aggressive. It does mean recognizing our responsibility to make things happen.
In today's Gospel St. John the Baptist lays the ground for Jesus' ministry by emphasizing human choice. The great precursor does it with a single word, "Repent."
What power that word had when spoken by someone of John's integrity! I remember a saintly old Capuchin priest who would sometimes meet a teenager and say to him, "Change your life!" You could tell by the young man's expression that, after getting over the shock, he was thinking, "How did he know?"
John had a similar impact on those who went to the desert to hear him. Maybe they expected the prophet to denounce the system which held them in bondage. But he had no time for excuses. (Oh, if it weren't for my husband... or my boss... or my parishioners...) No, he knew every single person needed to change his life.
A few of his hearers thought they required relatively little repentance. They appeared to have their act together. John told them - in the strongest possible language - they more than anyone else needed to change their lives.
I remember once on a weekend retreat someone praying for "the person who needs this retreat the most - and who thinks he needs it the least." It struck home to me. Maybe this Sunday we should pray for the person among us who needs this Advent the most...
From Archives (Second Sunday of Advent, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (Sacrificial Giving Results, Listening Sessions, Our Lady of Guadalupe)
Homily for Our Lady Of Guadalupe "Am I Not Your Mother?"
Human Cloning: A Catholic Perspective (How the Unthinkable Became Inevitable)
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
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Centro Mary Bloom