1st Reading: Bar. 5: 1-9
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 126: 1-6
Second Reading: Phil. 1: 4-6, 8-11
Gospel: Lk. 3: 1-6
When I was younger I used to love hiking–climbing trails up steep slopes overlooking beautiful vistas and down rocky ravines with ominous names like the Devil’s Punch bowl. I would go slow and watch my step. Now that I am more mature, I much prefer walking in city parks and on bicycle trails where I can maintain a steady pace and don’t have to watch my feet so much. There is a reason nobody runs a marathon through mountain trails. We can move faster and farther on a path that has been made smooth for us.
In the Gospel reading John the Baptist cries out that repentance is the way to make a straight path for our Lord–to make the hills low and the valleys level. Jesus comes to us and we must prepare the way for him.
Are there mountains of our own making? Have we sunk into ravines that we can’t see beyond? Thanks to God that we have been baptized not only for repentance but with fire and the Holy Spirit. It is grace, especially the graces received in confession and Eucharist, that makes the path smooth and enables us to move farther and faster to get home to the heavenly Jerusalem and to Jesus.
Remember the cry of the Baptist. Live these days of Advent in the faith that our pathways will be made straight and the hills and valleys will be made smooth. Remember once again the celebration of Jesus’ coming–the one John announced with joy. We see the salvation and compassion of our God here among us. Remember the call, and ask for the grace to be one of the ones who makes the paths straight for those who need to here the message of God’s coming once again.
God, who comes to us in these days, help us to remember not only to live in penance but also to imitate the Baptist and proclaim his message to all so that together we can all make it home. Help us rejoice that Jesus is coming in these days and help us prepare his way once again. May we make straight the paths and proclaim the Good News so that all people will know the salvation and love of our God.
Joan Caldwell, Associate