Let us not miss the point. Today`s Gospel: it speaks firstly of John the Baptist, that herald of an extraordinary happening. The Gospel records his cry uttered in the desert and describes his mission as to prepare the way, to make the rough roads smooth. His role has become a part of human history. But the name of John fades at the coming of the Word of God himself. After long silence during which there were neither signs nor prophets, God spoke once again: His voice echoed in the desert proclaiming a decisive turning point in the history of the human race. In one final initiative which fulfilled and surpassed the former preparations, God was about to appear.
But how would this come about? Would He manifest Himself like a meteor blazing a trail across the heavens before losing itself once again in the infinite galaxies? Would we perhaps glimpse Him only for an instant before darkness closed in upon the World once again? No, for this Word who has invaded our time speaks to us all. "Every one shall see the salvation of God." In his writings Luke will demonstrate the universal impact of this Word of God when, in the Acts of the Apostles, he goes on to chronicle the outstanding progress of the Gospel message from Jerusalem, even to Rome itself. By then one can give a name to this Word, come to full fruition in His death and resurrection; Jesus Christ, without whom there is not salvation, the only name by which we can be saved. But in order to see Him we must die to our self-centeredness and selfishness. We need to be converted. And this is John`s message.
God speaks amid the discordant voices of history. The powerful cannot be bothered or do not deign to hear. It is the words of the humble which persistently reiterate the invitation to join in the new human exodus, a journey towards salvation, to Christ. Are we capable of listening to those words?
The need to be converted - the need to make the way smooth and the paths straight, the leveling of hills and valleys for the coming of Christ: But what does all this mean to you and me on the eve of the year 2010? In the Gospel, of today Luke quotes from the prophet Isaiah:
"A voice cries in the wilderness; Prepare a way for the Lord, make it paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in, every mountain will be laid low, winding ways will be straightened
and rough roads made smooth. And all human kind will see the salvation of God."
From the prophets words we are able to make this adapt to our own situation. We have chosen to follow Christ, that is why we are called Christian; and in order to follow Christ as true disciples we need to do as He did and as He asks us to do. We need to live our lives by the same set of coordinates as He did. This is not an easy task; it was not easy for Him either, but it is what we are called to do. Each one of us is able to determine where and what needs to be put to rights in our own lives if we are honest with ourselves. Advent, the time of waiting, is the time to take stock of our lives and put to rights what needs to be. If we are unsure about what and how to go about this preparation and conversion we need only ask the advice of those whom we know to be living their lives according to the teachings of our divine Master, Jesus Christ.
The valleys and mountains in our lives that need to be leveled are those recurring sinful patches we come across, when our weak will gives in to our desires and when this happens we could kick ourselves for being so foolish, but already it is too late. we have done it . You know what I mean: that unkind word about another person; that cutting remark made to someone who was trying to be helpful. Then there is that lie, well it was only a little one, but a lie all the same. I really enjoy the term "white lie". It does not matter whether it was a green or yellow lie, it remains just that, a lie. It may seem to get us out of the immediate prickle in which we may find ourselves, but it lands us in very hot water with God.
The smoothing of the paths is merely removing from our lives all that is at odds with God`s will. Anything that is an obstacle to His plans for us should be removed and got out of the way. An image developed in mind is that of the breaking of the land speed record by Donald Campbell. This was done in a specially designed motor vehicle, but the surface on which it had to travel had to be smooth with no ripple or form of corrugation, so it was held on a salt pan somewhere in America. This would be the smoothest long distance surface possible. This brings to mind the occasion when he attempted to break the world speed record on water and a wind rose and caused ripples on the surface of the lake on which the test was in progress and Bluebird became airborne. There was no record.
Advent is a time for us to put things right between God and ourselves, regardless of how trivial the difference may appear to be. It is the time for us to prepare our lives for Christ to be the major role player, without exception, in all we think, do or say.
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