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Prepare the Way of the Lord! (2nd Sunday of Advent, 2021)

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Fr. T J. Puliyan, MSFS

A blizzard hit the Kansas prairie, and two feet of snow drifted to five and six feet in different places. The telephone rang in the doctor’s home. The time had come for John Lang’s wife to have her baby. But the doctor couldn’t get through those drifts.

John Lang called his neighbors: Can you help the doctor to get through? In no time, from all directions, came men and boys with plows and shovels. They labored with all their might almost for two hours until the doctor was able to make it, just in time to deliver the Lang boy.

On this second Sunday of Advent, the call comes to us from God the Father through His prophet Isaiah and is repeated by Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist asking us: “Prepare the way of the Lord.” But we are called not to remove piles of snow, but piles of sin, sin of enmity, hatred, vengeance, violence, neglect, thoughtlessness, and those things that make it difficult and often impossible for the Divine Child to be reborn to our hearts and lives.

Advent is the season of Christian “road work” with John the Baptist as our overseer. With the voice of John, the church is asking us today personally and communally to level and straighten out whatever obstacles or dangers we may have on our journey to God, especially in meeting the babe of Bethlehem.

In the first reading, Prophet Baruch (5:1-9) asks the grieving Jerusalem to stand on the heights in order to see her scattered children coming home, with God in the lead.  This reminds us that all of us, like Israel in her exile, have been led into the captivity of sin.  Hence, we need restoration and conversion. Today’s responsorial psalm (126) is the joyous song of ascent, sung by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem.

We see those who had gone into exile weeping now returning “rejoicing, carrying their sheaves.” In the second reading, St. Paul, in his writing to his beloved community at Philippi (1:4-6,8-11), prays that they may be filled with joy as they await the day of Christ.  Paul reminds us that our remembrance of God’s saving deeds during the Advent season is meant to stir our Faith and to fill us with confidence that “the One who began a good work in us will continue to complete it” until Jesus comes again in glory.

In the Gospel, John the Baptist challenges us to prepare the way for the salvation of all, including our own, by true repentance leading to the renewal of our lives. John’s preaching of repentance and a change of life is “the voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”

For us, this command means that we are to prepare a royal road in our hearts for our Savior, a way that will take us from the wilderness of sin and alienation from God. John the Baptist proclaimed the coming of God’s Kingdom and preached a baptism of immersion, symbolizing the interior repentance leading to conversion and forgiveness.

Preparing “the way” means to create a favorable environment or to make it easy for Someone to come and operate in one’s life. The quotation of John ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.” is taken from Isaiah 40:3-5, where the prophet called the people to prepare for the Lord’s visitation.

 It means clearing the path of sin, which is the major obstacle preventing the Lord from coming into our lives.  If a king were planning to travel, work crews would be dispatched to repair the roads so that the king’s journey would be straight, level, and smooth.  John considered himself as the courier of the king.  But the preparation on which John insisted was a preparation of heart and life; “The king is coming,” John Said, therefore, “Mend, not your roads, but your lives

Yes, dear friends in Christ, we have to fill the “valleys” of our souls and our lives created by our shallow prayer life and a minimalist way of living out our Faith. We have to straighten whatever crooked paths we’ve been walking with the involvement of habitual sins or in a sinful relationship.  If we have been involved in dishonest practices at work or home, we are called to straighten them and make restitution.  If we have been harboring grudges or hatred, now is the time to clear away all the debris. If we have been pushing God off to the side of our road and having no time for Him, now is the time for us to get our priorities straight.  John’s message calls us to confront ourselves and confess our sins to receive God’s forgiveness and make our advent journey joyful to receive baby Jesus into our hearts and lives!

Happy Weekend!

May God bless us all.

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