In today’s gospel reading, we are reminded of the prophetic clarion call of the prophets Isaiah, Malachi and of course John the Baptist, who Jesus referred to as the greatest of the prophets. That call was for the people of God to prepare the way for the Lord, and to make straight paths for him as the prophets all did.
In my advent reflection for this 2nd Sunday of Advent I spoke about preparing. We are all accustomed to times when we prepare or make ready for something. We might prepare our home if we are having friends or relatives over for a meal, or even to stay. We might prepare and make ready if we are going on a trip. I am sure we all have Christmas traditions in which we prepare our homes to celebrate Christmas. We also have an opportunity to prepare our hearts in every Church service we attend or as part of our quiet times and personal devotions.
Having time to prepare and to do it mindfully is a gift that we should not squander. Unless we make space to still ourselves from the fever of life, we can all too easily miss the signs of God’s presence and directing. I’m mindful that there is a huge difference between hearing and actively listening. In our preparing we need to listen so carefully to God, even more so in these times. The prophets also speak about making straight paths for him. In this time of Advent, we can examine our lives and seek to remove any obstacles that get in the way of our faith and growth as disciples.
That is one of the many reasons why telling and retelling the Christmas story is so important. It helps us gain perspective, to order and reorder our lives afresh and remember the hope of the glory to which we are called. It is through preparing the way and opening our hearts to God that we might truly know and experience his comfort – the light of Christ stepping down into the darkness.