Some may find it strange to see key figures involved in the Passion of Christ mentioned in the second week of Advent. Some may wonder: “Christ is coming – the Baby Jesus! Can’t we put this off until Easter season?”. However, when we read this Gospel again, and maybe a third time, we see it is not a negative message. It is not a warning or preview of bad things to come. We must remember, and this would not have been lost on the first Christians hearing St. Luke’s Gospel, all of those mentioned died, but Jesus rose to eternal life. What St. Luke is showing us is the reality of the world Jesus was born into. It is the reality of what and who he was to face during his mission. Most importantly, it is the reality of why the message and calling of St. John the Baptist is important during Advent. It is our reality as well.
We speak of this time of year in terms of preparation, birth and renewal. The Catechism states: “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, …by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming.”. St. John the Baptist burned with the desire to fulfill what the prophet Isaiah said. He leapt for joy while still in his mother’s womb when Elizabeth heard the voice of our Blessed Mother Mary (Luke 1:44). As the “forerunner” of Christ, he had the “ardent desire” to call the people to prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight His paths, to fill the valleys, to make low the mountains, to smooth the rough ways – to remove all the obstacles keeping the people from the Lord.
I can think back on this past year, this past month, and even this past week, and I see my reality. I recall the paths I followed that led me away from the Lord. I see the mountains I placed between me and others to shield me from them, or them from me. I remember the valleys that separated me from those I love, from those I should have loved, and from those that needed love. I see the deserts I was in, and those I created. Maybe many of us have had similar experiences, and being the human beings we are, we will continue to have these experiences – these obstacles – in our lives. This is our reality. It is also our reality is to be prepared for the His second coming. We must listen to the message of St. John the Baptist and seek a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of our sins. God wants us to turn to Him. So much so that He sent – NO – He GAVE His only Son to the world (John 3:16). By turning to God for his love, mercy, and forgiveness – as a “baptism of repentance” – we clear the path for Jesus to come to us. We remove the obstacles. Removing these obstacles does not only benefit us individually. Recall the Gospel tells us to “make straight his paths”. Paths to others. Paths to the world. This too is our reality. We become another “voice of one crying out in the desert” proclaiming the Good News of Advent, and of our Lord.
I pray we celebrate the anniversary of Jesus’ first coming with the ardent desire of St. John the Baptist, and continually prepare for His second coming. I leave you with the words of St. Paul from the second reading:
“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you
will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Diaconate Candidate 2024