I was reading a story which brought me this thought, every summer there is always some part of the highway that is being repaired. There will be signs that say, "Slow Down - Construction Ahead" and we would see road graders, gravel trucks, and a lot of men working on the highway. I always thought to myself, "What a nice highway this will be when it finished it and there is no more construction." Summer comes and goes, guess what? They are still working on it!
What about our lives? We are back again for the season of Advent, a time for waiting and preparing. The first reading from the book of Baruch, the prophet says that the hand of God will bring back the Israelites from their Babylonian exile. We know the exodus story; Moses led them back from Egypt. The Hebrews were brought into exile not just because they were weaker than their neighbors, but because they deserted the God who had formed them into His people. When they recognized their sins, and the hand of God brought them back to Promised Land.
In the Gospel, the voice of John the Baptist was heard in the whole region of Jordan, which is part of the Promised Land. John the Baptist invited everyone for the baptism of repentance. What does this mean? Even though the Israelites were in the Promised Land, still they were still in spiritual exile. John the Baptist cried out in the desert, “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” John wasn't really talking about building a highway upon which Jesus could travel. He was really talking about the hearts of the people. He was calling people to prepare their hearts to receive Jesus so that he could walk among them and live with them.
Today we are no different from the Israelites. It is a human condition. Advent invites us to listen to the voice of John the Baptist which is an Invitation to prepare the way of the Lord for Christmas and ultimately, for his second coming.
St. Paul says in the second reading, “this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.”
As we prepare for Christmas, let us grow in the love of Christ and others. Let us recognize the need for Christ in our lives. He is the one who fills our emptiness. If our emptiness and our inadequacies are filled by Jesus Christ, then we thank God for our need for his presence. Jesus was born to die for us, and that death starts at manger. He emptied himself,
separated from his glory, and born in a manger; the first part of the death look place there. How? His love for us. Let us listen to the voice of John the Baptist to prepare the way, the way of love to receive Jesus in the manger, who is love.