Advent is a season both for contemplating and for imitating the sharp-eyed men and women of Scripture. Not those whose eyesight would have tested 20/20, but all those ancestors in faith who kept their eyes open, looking for the coming of the Lord. Some, like the Old Testament prophets, scanned the horizon for signs of the Messiah who would reveal God's glory. Others had the spiritual vision to recognize and receive that Messiah when he came as a vulnerable infant in a manger.
During Jesus' life, the people around him caught glimpses of his glory as well. To some—like the shepherds and, later, the apostles who saw Jesus transfigured—it came in a very dramatic way. But most of the time, people saw Jesus' glory in everyday moments and encounters. Think of Elizabeth recognizing his presence in Mary; of Simeon and Anna, who spotted him from among the many babies brought to the Temple; or of Nicodemus and the woman at the well.
"Come and see," Jesus told Andrew in one of those everyday encounters (John 1:39). And now, he extends that invitation to each one of us. How should we respond? One of the best ways is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For it is as we repent of our sins that we allow the Holy Spirit to remove the clouds from our eyes and show us the glory of the Lord.
The following examination of conscience is meant to help you prepare for Confession. Take your time as you answer these questions. Let the Spirit's still, small voice speak to you words of hope and mercy. Believe that Jesus didn't come to condemn but to forgive. So let him wash you clean. Then, you too will be able to say, "We have seen his glory" (John 1:14).
" 'Come,' my heart says, 'seek his face!' Your face, Lord, do I seek." (Psalm 27:8)
Does God hold first place in my life, or have I become the servant of something or someone else?
Have I given priority to God on Sundays and holy days by attending Mass and making a special effort to seek him?
Do I safeguard my time of prayer and Scripture reading so that I can open myself to God's love and direction every day?
"The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me." (John 17:22-23)
Have I pursued unity in my relationships with others, or have I eroded it by my words, attitudes, and actions?
Have I lied or gossiped about other people in a way that tarnished their reputation?
Do I give appropriate honor and respect to my parents and all legitimate authority?
Is there anyone I need to forgive? Is there anyone whose forgiveness I need to ask?
Do I treat my body with respect, or have I abused it through the willful misuse of drugs, alcohol, or food?
Am I following Jesus' teachings on sexual morality? Do I indulge in lustful thoughts and sexual fantasies? Have I committed sins of impurity?
"Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
How have I shown compassion and concern for the poor, less fortunate, sick, and suffering?
Am I helping to build a culture of life?
Have I resisted the Spirit's invitations to speak the truth or spread the gospel out of fear of what others might think?
What other areas of my life does the Holy Spirit want to cleanse so that I can be transformed into the image of Jesus, "from one degree of glory to another" (2 Corinthians 3:18)?