Sunday, December 10, 2017

Prepare Ye the Way: The Second Sunday of Advent

On this Second Sunday of Advent, we are introduced once again to John the Baptist.  And we remember that he was a bit of an odd guy.  He wears a shirt of camel hair and a leather belt aroud his waste.  He eats locusts and wild honey.  Probably not exactly the kind of person we would aspire to be.  (Although, I'm wondering if he could have shopped at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods!) 

But I think that our readings this Sunday invite to be exactly like John the Baptist.  Not that we need to wear camel shirts (although it looks like you can buy them online!  Or you could choose another alternative - see below.) And not that we have to eat locusts and grasshoppers (even chocolate covered.) 
You can find just about anything on
We are invited to be like John the Baptist in that we are called to "Prepare the way of the Lord."  This is John's mission, and ours.  So how do we do this?  I think our readings give us a nice image.  We are told (both in Isaiah and in the Gospel) that John's work takes place in the desert.  For the people of the Bible, the desert wasn't so much a hot sandy expanse as we might think of it, but the desert was a barren, dry, scraggly wasteland.  It was the hideout of robbers and bandits (so it was dangerous) and it was a symbol for a place of chaos and disorientation.  Just think of Moses and the people wandering around the desert for 40 years!

It is to this place of chaos that John - and us - are called to prepare the way of the Lord, to make the presence of the Lord known.  In the midst of chaos and disorientation - maybe someone who has recently lost a loved one or is facing a serious illness, maybe a family whose wage-earner has just lost a job, maybe an immigrant who is scared, maybe a parent who isn't sure if her child will be able to receive much needed medicine, maybe someone who is lonely during this holiday season - in the midst of all these (and much more) we can fill in valleys and straighten out paths and smooth rugged plains by being voices that cry out God's love and hope, by being people of compassion and mercy.  By proclaiming by our words and actions that Jesus is present even in the midst of the desert.  We do this by sitting quielty with one who is grieving or ill.  We do this by giving a gift or some food to an agency that works with those struggling financially.  We do this by uring our elected officials to base decisions on a higher moral authority and not on patisan politics.  We do this by visiting neighbors and friends who don't have much family around.  In these ways (and many more), we prepare the way of the Lord, and we point to the one who will come.
St. John the Baptist at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome

As we continue our Advent journey, let's reflect on how each of us can be like John the Baptist and Prepare the way of the Lord!

Blessings on your Advent!

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