Our readings today give us hope that Jesus is coming, but also offer a challenge to prepare the way before Him. John the Baptist’s words in today’s Gospel point us to Jesus while challenging us to repent. In order to prepare the way and make straight his paths, we must be willing to sometimes go out on a limb and be that voice crying in the wilderness, proclaiming the mightiness of our Savior.
In the first reading from Isaiah, we hear a voice that cries out: In the secret prepare the way of the Lord. In the second reading, we are reminded that we will not know the day or the hour of Jesus’ return, so we must be ready. Today’s Gospel talks of John the Baptist proclaiming a baptism of repentance.
One of the most important things we can do this Advent season is to prepare our own heart to receive Jesus. The big question is: how do I do this? We must spend more time with Jesus in prayer. We can treat our prayer time like an appointment, setting aside some time each day to spend with God, even if it’s only five or ten minutes. We can refrain from giving God the “leftovers” of our day, instead offering the first fruits of time when we’re awake and alert. We might prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts by spending time reading Scripture, praying a rosary, or praying in adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Whatever we do, it will help us prepare our hearts to receive Jesus.
Just like John the Baptist, we want to prepare the way of the Lord in such a way that those around us might more easily be brought into an encounter with Jesus. John the Baptist, through his words and actions, was able to bring people into an encounter with the Lord; our words and actions can have the same effect if we’re intentional about them.
During this Advent season, we can take some time to talk to family, friends, co-workers, or classmates about the true meaning of Christmas. It may be a small action or a simple word from us that opens up the way of the Lord in that person’s heart. Just like John, we should point to Jesus in all that we do and say. Be a witness for Christ. After all, we have all been called by name to a life of discipleship.
-Fr. Jonathan Austin
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