Prepare the Way of the Lord

How many people do you know who build roads? May be some of you know, but I do not. Building roads is an important job in our society. Not everyone is called and trained to build roads.  We need roads to move from one place to another. There are city roads, country roads, old roads, new roads, public and private roads.

There are different types of roads. They are made of dirt, bricks, cement, tar, wood etc. Roads come in all sizes. Some roads are short and wide, others are long and narrow, or vice versa. Some are smooth, others are rough. Regardless of the how they are built or whether you walk or drive on them, their main function does not change, they lead to a destination.

Do you prefer to drive on a straight road rather than a crooked road? When we travel on a straight road, we can see what is in front of us. Our destination is clear and it takes less effort to travel.

The Season of Advent is an opportunity to walk the way to the Lord. Yet, He is more than just a destination. He is the way itself; the way to our salvation: “the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (cf. PS 118:22).

The Prophet Isaiah prophesied that John the Baptize would make straight the paths of Jesus (cf. MT 3:3). By that he meant that John’s message for repentance was the way to redemption. Those who heeds John’s message walk on a solid foundation. As the Prophet Isaiah declared: “Therefore, thus says the Lord God: See, I am laying a stone in Zion, a stone that has been tested, a precious cornerstone as a sure foundation; whoever puts faith in it will not waver (IS 28:16). As baptized children, we receive the way to our salvation. That is when we become equipped to build the road for Jesus.

This Advent Season, Jesus is calling on us to build roads that lead to God. It is not enough for us to know the way of Jesus. His way should not be a secret that we keep to ourselves. Today as in the days of the John the Baptist, Jesus needs us to make His paths straight. That is our challenge this Advent Season. How are we making the crooked paths straight so Jesus becomes the way for others? Let’s pray to Jesus to give us the grace to know how and to have the courage to undertake His call.

Inspired by the Second Sunday of Advent Readings

Third Sunday of Advent

Reading 1:  Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Responsorial Psalm: Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
Reading 2: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28

“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God” (IS 61:1-2).

These words, first spoken by the prophet Isaiah and repeated by Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, are instructions for service and evangelization (see LK 4:16-30).

In addition to being a time of preparation, Advent is an opportunity to reflect on the suffering of the poor and weak (cf. Psalm 41:1). It is an invitation to minister to the human and spiritual needs of the neediest amongst us. A ministry marked by joy and prayer     (cf. 1 THES 5:16).

Let’s remember this day that it is by following Jesus’s teachings that we become anointed and rejoice in our God (cf. IS 61:10b). It is how, like John the Baptist, we become “the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’” (JN 1:23).

– God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you.

Second Sunday of Advent

Readings:

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Psalm 85:9-14
2 Peter 3:8-14
Mark 1:1-8

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD” (Isaiah 40:3).

Our hearts are the wilderness God wants to prepare for his return. To fulfill his desire for us, we must not just make a path for him, we must build a highway; one that can receive his glorious salvation. We must level the mountains and hills blocking the radiance of his light.  We must smooth the rough edges, which like the crown of thorns placed on Christ, are our cause of pain and suffering (cf. Isaiah 40:1-4).  Only “[T]hen the glory of the LORD shall be revealed” (Isaiah 40:5).

God wants to grant us salvation; he wants to show us his mercy. This is why he sent his son so we could experience a living example of kindness and truth, justice and peace. These four conditions are necessary means to prepare for the Lord’s coming (cf. Psalm 85:11-15).

We cannot assume that we can put off our preparedness for tomorrow; like a thief, God’s arrival is unknown (cf. 2 Peter 3:10). Therefore, it is important that while we wait, we do what we can “to be found without spot or blemish before him” (2 Peter 3:14).

God, however, expects more from us that just to be prepared. God wants us to evangelize others, just as John the Baptist did, to prepare them to receive him (cf. Mark 1:2-3). We cannot hoard God’s message of salvation. He meant for us to share it the same way he shared his son with us.

– God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you.

We Always Come First

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.” (Matthew 14:13)

How would have you reacted if, in the moment of mourning a friend, people interrupted you so they could be healed? Many of us would have asked for privacy or maybe we would have been too sad to help others, or maybe we would have been angry by people’s lack of consideration. I think we would have been understanding of Jesus if he felt those emotions. We can see from his actions that his love is not like our love. We always come first and nothing can separate us from this love, not even John’s murder. That’s the message of today’s gospel (Matthew 14:13-21).

As the Apostle Paul explains in the epistle to the Romans: “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35). Jesus will always be there for us. As is it written in today’s Psalm “The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs” (Psalm 145:cf.16).

The depths of Jesus’ love for us are unknown. The Prophet Isaiah alludes to this when he says: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1). These are not empty words. As we experience in today’s gospel, these words are fulfilled in the miracle of the loaves bread and fish.

We must be careful, however, not to misconstrue Christ’s love for us as a cheap commodity that we can buy and throw away. Yes, his love is there for the taking, but we must do our part to justify it. What may that be? “Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life” (Isaiah 55:2-3) God does not force himself on us, we must heed his words to receive his love.

 

— God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you.–