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Second Week of Advent

Luke 3:1-6

The experience of travelling during the time of the Old Testament was very different from our own. Most people walked. Some rode a horse or donkey. For them road conditions were not a serious consideration. But for dignitaries, such as a king, they were. So a messenger would be sent ahead to see that the roads were passable and to alert the people to the impending royal visit.

It was in those terms that John the Baptist viewed his ministry as the forerunner of the Messiah. He uses the image of the road to show how we can either encourage or impede Christ’s entrance into our lives. John was comparing people’s hearts to roads and was telling them to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.

We have a duty to level off our sharp peaks of pride, selfishness and blind ambitions which have become mountain-sized obstacles between Jesus and ourselves. Valleys also slow the journey to our Saviour. These are the low, cold areas of depression, fear and despair. They obscure the warming sun and keep us wandering along the dark edge of night.

Once again this Advent we are preparing ourselves for the coming of Jesus. The Church gives us John the Baptist to help us. Each one of us is challenged to examine his or her way to the Lord. John wants us to remove dead ends and straighten out the hairpin curves of double standards, of lying, cheating and crookedness. Our rough ways of acting and speaking can become more gentle, our outbursts of anger or impatience can be paved with self-control.

John, the herald of the Messiah, continues to shout, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” With barriers removed, God is not far from us. If obstacles remain on our way of life, we make contact or even communication with Him almost impossible. God comes to us on the roads we make. If He does not come, we have not prepared.

Jesus, the Messiah, came for the first time as a baby in Bethlehem. Almost no one expected Him to come on Earth in so humble a fashion. Mary and Joseph had been alerted in advance. Some local shepherds and astrologers from the East also knew of His coming. But apart from them this long-awaited event among the Chosen People went almost unnoticed.

The New Testament speaks of a second coming of Christ. The One who came first as a Baby has promised someday to return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The early followers of Jesus clearly expected that event to happen during their lifetime. As the years went by some became discouraged and were tempted to give up preparing for His coming. Saint Peter explained the seeming delay by writing in his second letter that one day with the Lord is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.

It is now 2015 and still the Lord has not returned. In the face of that fact, we should keep in mind what Peter said. The fact that He has not visibly and bodily returned to Earth does not mean that He is not coming. I think I can say that none of us really expects His return to happen during this Advent. So in what sense can we truly expect the coming of the Lord?

During this Advent we are preparing for His coming this Christmas. As we commemorate that first coming on Christmas Day will He come to you and me?

At Christmas personal relationships loom large. We think once more of how much we care for some people. How empty life would be without them. We are reminded that if there is anything worthwhile in our lives, it has come to us from such relationships. It is this visit of Christ at Christmas that makes us think like that. So all of us through our relationships with people, particularly our loved ones, can look at Christmas as a personal visit of Christ to us.

Another place we can expect Christ’s coming is in the lives of the people who need us. For some people Christmas is the loneliest season of the year. Anyone who can enjoy an abundant Christmas and not be aware of the poor and needy do not deserve a visit from Christ and need not expect one. If you have trouble finding Christ in your home this Christmas, seek Him out in the homes or in the streets of those who need you. You are sure to find Him there.

Heavenly Father, once again this Advent let us thank You for sending us John the Baptist to help us to prepare our hearts for the coming of Your Son, Jesus Christ, this Christmas.

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