From the Gospel according to Mark
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.”
John the Baptist appeared in the desert
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
People of the whole Judean countryside
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel’s hair,
with a leather belt around his waist.
He fed on locusts and wild honey.
And this is what he proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Gospel of the Lord.
Is my door closed?
I’ve often wondered: If John knew that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit, why did he use water for baptism? Now I understand that I need a “conversion baptism” to be ready for the baptism in the Spirit. This requires a sincere desire to follow the Gospel’s guidelines, especially in my marriage. These guidelines emphasize putting God first in my life and loving my spouse as God loves me—no less. It involves significant sacrifice and humility so that the Spirit can truly reside in me. If I don’t prepare my heart through effort and prayer during this Advent, I won’t be ready to welcome the Child into my life. Despite external decorations, there won’t be a meaningful Christmas in my marriage. God is about to be born. Will I make a way for Him? Will I prepare a place for Him in my home, or will I keep my door closed when Mary comes knocking to give birth? I firmly believe that the Lord desires to enter my home and will assist me in preparing my heart. I earnestly want to receive Him.
In the context of married life:
Charlie : I’ve messed up again, Mary. I’ve unfairly judged you and spoken to you in a way you don’t deserve. I apologize and offer to support you in any way you need, striving to make amends for the harm I’ve caused.
Mary (Charlie’s wife): No, Charlie. I’ve also spoken poorly to you and misjudged you. Forgive me as well. Let’s together seek forgiveness from the Lord and ask for His mercy.
Both: Lord, we were making an effort, and things were going well, but once again, we stumbled, disrupting our connection, and our children overheard our arguments. Please forgive us, Lord, and grant us the strength to do better next time. It’s pride that hinders our mutual support; selfishness keeps us from prioritizing our spouse over ourselves. Vanity leads me to pretend superiority over my spouse. Grant us the humility needed to receive each other with the dignity you’ve bestowed upon us. Lord, we desire to open our hearts to Your love. May Your love be born within us this Christmas. Amen.
You who carry Love, bring it into our home and our marriage. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.