2021-12-05 - PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD. A reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C Author: Rev. Fr. Donatus Okeke
Readings: 1st: Baruch 5:1-9; 2nd: Philippians 1:4-6.8-11; Gospel: Luke 3: 1-6
In the liturgy of this second Sunday of Advent, the Church presents us with one of the central themes of the season: ‘Preparation’. To “prepare the way of the Lord”, is frequently used during Advent. It is a call for us to get ready to welcome Jesus Christ, so that we do not meet him unprepared. John the Baptist is the model of Advent preparation – he is the one who prepares the way of the Lord. No wonder, the 2nd and 3rd Sundays of Advent, in all the three cycles of the liturgical calendar discuss the personality of John the Baptist.
In the First Reading, prophet Baruch assures the Jews in exile of God’s restoration. They are to take off their garments of sorrow and affliction and put on the beauty of glory from God. The Gospel has a link with the First Reading. St. Luke, in today’s Gospel, links John the Baptist to the voice of the one crying in the wilderness as it is written in the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3-5). He invites us to prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths straight. Valleys, mountains, hills, rough and crooked roads are figuratively used to show the things we need to consider as we prepare the way of the lord. These were equally mentioned in the First Reading.
Valleys to be filled: A valley is a lower part of the earth, usually between hills or mountains. Valleys in today’s Gospel may represent vacuum in our relationship with God. This is often created by sin. It means deficiency, absence of what should be.
Mountains and hills be made low: A mountain is a large natural elevation of the earth’s surface rising abruptly from the surrounding level. Mountains here could stand for those obstacles that separate us from one another and from God. Many of us make themselves unreachable to others, thereby building walls. Mountains exist in our lives through pride, selfish inclinations, hatred, war, arrogance, disputes, malice and lots of others.
The crooked roads made straight and the rough ways made smooth: Many of our roads in Nigeria are in terrible situation, such that they have become death traps for the populace. So, I believe that we will understand clearly the picture of crooked and rough roads. Crooked and rough ways could mean those attitudes of ours that disfigure our Christian lives. The crooked and rough ways of lives include waywardness, promiscuity, stealing, sabotage, sycophancy, corruption and lots of others. All these reduce our dignity as children of God.
1. We observe that none of these road conditions (valley, mountain, hill, crooked or rough road) is suitable. Our Lord cannot pass on such roads. Thus, we must amend the road for which our Lord will pass. Let us note that the way of the Lord, we are to prepare is our hearts. If we do not prepare our hearts well this Advent, the Christmas season will not be fruitful for us, and the second coming of Christ, will be meaningless.
2. John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord by his preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Repentance is an act of preparing the way of the Lord. It entails turning a new living. In this season of Advent, we need to purify ourselves of our uncleanness. We can achieve this through the sacrament of reconciliation. St. Paul in the Second Reading, enjoins us to be pure and blameless for the day of the Lord.
We are encouraged to be the John the Baptist of our society today. It is not just enough preparing the way of the Lord in our lives alone, but we must make others feel this. We are to announce the coming of Christ, not just by mere words but, by our actions and show of love to others.
Beloved in Christ, as we constantly appeal to the government to intervene on our roads, let us equally, consider preparing the way of the Lord. Preparing the way of the Lord is not necessarily decoration of roads, trees, purchase of Christmas shoes and clothes, but, turning away from sin.
May God help us!!!