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"clean up your act"
"He will sit refining and purifying [silver], and He will purify the sons of Levi." —Malachi 3:3
Before Christ's coming this Christmas, we must be purified. In fact, that's putting it mildly. We need to be refined by fire and have our crimson-stained sins (Is 1:18) whitened by "the fuller's lye" (Mal 3:2). We need to be purged, detoxified, and baptized in repentance (Mk 1:4).
Most Christians don't consider themselves so dirty as to require such extreme forms of purification. I'm sure Zechariah, being a just man and a blameless priest (Lk 1:6), didn't think he needed nine months of being a mute to "clean up his act" (Lk 1:20). Most Christians think they need to be merely dusted off, not put in a blast furnace.
However, God knows His children better than they know themselves. Most little children don't recognize dirt the way their parents do. The children are quite content to make a mess and live in it. Children don't usually tell parents to clean their rooms, but vice versa. In today's Scripture readings and in this Advent season, God the Father is telling us, His children, that we may be dirtier than we think.
Ask the Spirit to convict you of sin (Jn 16:8). Repent! Go to Confession before Christmas. Be clean and pure — by the Father's standards.
Prayer: Jesus, this Christmas by Your grace I will be pure as You are pure (1 Jn 3:3).
Promise: " 'What will this child be?' and, 'Was not the hand of the Lord upon him?' " —Lk 1:66
Praise: "O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel!"
Reference: (For related teaching, order our leaflet, Be Holy, For I Am Holy.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, June 1, 1997
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 9, 1997