Election campaigns very often degenerate into character assassinations. Past failures are highlighted to discredit almost every candidate. The good they may have done is ignored and their errors are not only recalled but exaggerated out of context. In politics there is little mercy for mistakes and there are few opportunities to make a fresh start. In our relationship with God things are very different. Although our sins may be scarlet God is willing to make them as white as snow. There is a constant invitation not only to make a fresh start but to begin a radically new way of living. Being aware of how easily we postpone this fresh start, the Church offers us annual reminders of Christ’s coming to focus our hearts as well as our minds on his presence among us. Advent is an alerting and preparing time.  This weekend John the Baptist reminds us that Christmas is about preparing a way to let God have an increasing say in our lives. Most of us face the prospect of change with mixed emotions.  There is something in us that wants to grow and expand. We have hopes and dreams not only for our country but for ourselves as well. We would like to do better in the future than we have in the past. But there is another part of us that is fearful of change.  We are not fully satisfied with life as it is, but we are familiar with it.  We have formed our attitudes and habits and are not sure that we want to change them. We may not even be sure that we could. That is why we go back to John the Baptist and his ministry year after year. His message was one of repentance which literally means “to change one’s mind and to take a new direction.” That is what we must all do. If the coming of Christ is to be real for us, there must be a different attitude.  We must find in our hearts a willingness to change.  Are we willing to change?  That is the question!                                               Fr John