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Jesus leads us back from spiritual exile caused by sin

On this Second Sunday of Advent, we hear from Baruch, a scribe of the great prophet Jeremiah, who witnessed the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem and sought to encourage the exiled children of Israel. 

The political and cultural shifts of the time caused many to forget their identity as a people set apart by God and chosen for a particular purpose. Baruch’s prophetic words were intended to remind them of their heritage and to resuscitate hope in their hearts so that they could again trust that they would return one day to Jerusalem.

Like the exiled Israelites, we too have had our minds and hearts conditioned by our experience of a world that is fallen. The tragedies of life can dull our senses to God’s presence all around us. If our hearts are numb to his love for us, we can easily lose sight of who we are and forget the loftiness of our calling. Despair can infiltrate our hearts and infect our memories. We must intentionally remember all the good that God has done for us during our lives and express our gratitude to God for his many blessings if we want to safeguard our heritage.

The Psalmist recounts the reversal of fortune that takes place when God suddenly acts and returns his people home from exile. There is so much laughter and rejoicing that it is an unreal and unfamiliar feeling. It is a place of such freedom that it seems to be a dream. It is a joy so pure that it transforms hearts.

Advent is a time of longing for just such a transformation within our own lives. God became enfleshed in history so that he could restore hope to our fallen world. Advent is the perfect time for us to allow Jesus, who is Hope, to become enfleshed in our own personal history so that he can heal us and restore us from our spiritual exile caused by our sin. Consider going to confession this Advent. Allow Jesus to clothe you in his obedience and restore you to your rightful place as a child of God.

Father Walter Nolte is pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Fremont. Contact him at wlnolte@archomaha.org.

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