This pandemic disrupted everything that people have embraced in life: work, business, travel, reunions, celebrations, norms, etc., name it and everything that we accepted as normal and routine suddenly changed. By the look of things, the change looks far-reaching and may not return to pre-pandemic times anymore. The “new normal” seems to stay on for a long, long time. 

Some people that we know were gone, although not all were due to the disease. But their passing came at so bad a time that revered customs and traditions weren’t done anymore due to health and safety protocols being enforced to prevent risks that come when people congregate. The memories and scars remain but we have to move on, without losing sight that someday it is inevitable that it’ll be our turn to leave this earth which we call our “temporary” home.

The readings in today’s Gospel remind us to hope, to appreciate God who loves us through and through, and to prepare the way for His coming birth. In the First Reading (Bar. 5: 1-9) the Prophet Baruch tells us that God will save His people and splendor will be restored in the city Jerusalem. His people who have been dispersed abroad will return triumphant and with great rejoicing. This is a promise of hope for those who live in fear and misery. God assures that He will remember anyone who trust and are faithful to Him.

In the Second Reading (Phil. 1: 4-6, 8-11) St. Paul tells his gratitude to the Philippians for all that they have done in helping him to spread the Word of God. He prays that God will bless those who remain faithful and that your love for each other and for Godwill be blessed more and more. This love for God helps us to develop that discernment to know what is essential and important to the Lord as we prepare for the day of His coming.

In the Psalms (Ps. 126: 1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6) today we proclaim: The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy! However, it isn’t easy to experience joy when one is facing challenges and difficulties. It takes faith that the Lord has done great things for us that we experience joy, not that we deserve it, but because of God’s loving mercy and compassion. We can’t appreciate and be aware of these unless we repent from our sins. This season, take the time to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to restore the lines broken by our indifference and arrogance.

Thus in the Gospel (Lk. 3: 1-6) St. John the Baptist exhorts us to “prepare the way” for Jesus Christ. The prophecy of Isaiah who said that there would be a forerunner to the Messiah is fulfilled as St. John preached baptism for the forgiveness of sins. This is a reminder to us that now is the time to make our preparations for the Lord’s coming, now is the time to make a straight and open path into our hearts for the Savior who will come to us this Christmas.

This season, we are invited to prepare not just for this Christmas but also for our own salvation. We are encouraged to respond as St. John prescribed: repentance for the forgiveness of our sins. 

As you go on this Advent journey ask yourself,

What “crooked” ways do you need to straighten and what “mountains” do you need to level down in anticipation of the Lord’s coming? 

Have you ever thought about preparing for the day when you pass on to the next? 

Are you meaning your life to be a preparation for eternity? 

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. (Ps. 126: 3)

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