The time is drawing near, the Lord is coming soon!
Advent is a time of preparation and hopeful anticipation. In a couple of weeks, we will celebrate Christmas but before engaging in the celebration, let us examine our readiness to welcome the Savior. Like Mary and the prophets of long ago, we eagerly await His birth that will bring joy to this weary world. The prophets Isaiah and John the Baptist have a simple advice for us: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Mk. 1: 3b)
The preparation for Christmas requires us to “straighten His paths”, such that,
“Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.” (Is. 40: 4)
We are hopeful because our separation from God is about to end. The time of exile – the long separation of humankind from God due to sin – is about to be finished. The Prophet Isaiah in today’s First Reading promises Israel’s release from captivity and exile because of God’s mercy and compassion. In many of the chapters between Chapters 40 and 53, God constantly has Isaiah speak about Jesus’ role as savior. God talks through this prophet to explain how He will liberate His people from sin and evil. Yahweh also said that He would lead the people back to holiness and righteousness.
In today’s Gospel we realize that Israel’s liberation was actually a portent of coming events. St. John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins — a herald of an even greater saving act by God through His Son Jesus Christ. This, as well as Isaiah’s prophecy; show that throughout history, Israel looks forward to the revelation of the Savior. In Jesus, God has filled in the symbolic valley that divided sinful humanity from Himself. God’s goodness and infinite love has reached down from Heaven, as we sing in today’s Psalm,
“I will hear what God proclaims; the LORD—for He proclaims peace to His people. Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him, glory dwelling in our land.” (Ps. 85: 9-10)
Take note that God has done this not only for mankind in general, but for each one of us. God cares! As St. Peter in the Second Reading reminds us that this is a personal call, and that we, God’s beloved; shouldn’t ignore this fact (2 Pt. 3: 8). Like the people of the whole Judean countryside and of Jerusalem going to John the Baptist, let us prepare well for the Savior’s coming and pray heartily that may His grace remove any spot or blemish in us (2 Pt. 3: 14).
May we go to the Lord and acknowledge our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Only then can we truly say we prepared the way of the Lord!
“Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.” (Ps. 85: 8)