“Prepare the Way of the Lord”
When Advent comes around every year, we are reminded that God is coming to find us. In the Gospel message for this Sunday John the Baptist shouts, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Mark 1:3) The Lord Jesus is coming, and His way must be prepared.
John the Baptist’s role is to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord by preaching the need for repentance. John is known as the herald who prepares the way for the Lord. Although he did not announce Jesus’ birth, he did prepare people for the coming of Jesus in His public ministry. He proclaimed the people’s needs for conversion and admission of sinfulness. Confess your sins, John suggests. Get baptized. Repent. Later, Jesus will add, “and believe in the good news!” (Mark 1:15).
The thing to keep in mind in this the second weekend of Advent is that God’s initiative is always first. God is not waiting for us. He is actively pursuing us. He is coming. There is a primacy to His Grace.
Advent is a time for us to clear the ground. To make straight the path to allow God to come to us. He wants to be born among us. God is like a helicopter that wants to come to save us, but it cannot land unless we clear the land. The spiritual life is an act of clearing the ground so that the helicopter can land. The Advent question for us is what needs to be cleared away and what requires filling in or building up?
St. John of the Cross suggests that the right response to the coming of our saviour is the eradication of attachments. We become obsessed with material possessions, reputation, wealth, and power. We need to detach ourselves from these creaturely goods so that we can accept the grace that God wants to give us. We must clear the ground. Get rid of the rocks and make the landing ground even so that the helicopter can land smoothly and that the grace of God can come rushing into our life.
What requires filling in or building up? Maybe the deep valley of our indifference to God needs to be filled in. How much time do we spend in prayer? Are we making a regular examination of conscience? If not, we are presenting a deep valley that makes it difficult for Jesus to land? Maybe our indifference to the poor is doing the same. Can we do more to provide for the needy and the oppressed?
We need to fill in the valley that is making access to God so difficult. Can we knock down our attraction to some of these attachments? Filling in the valleys and making straight the path is an exercise in preparing for the arrival of our God. He wants to be born in all of us.
Advent is a special opportunity we have not just to clean and decorate our homes in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but more importantly, a time to clear a path and prepare to welcome Jesus as He comes to us. Like John the Baptist let us prepare the way of the Lord.
God bless you folks, Father Gerard