FamilyRadio316, Prepare the Way.
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A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Matthew 3:3 (Isaiah 40:3).
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There’s the road, above, leading directly to the source of all light, love and life. It seems rough, though the surrounding countryside seems to be rougher, and it meanders a little, but doesn’t that echo our own experience of life? I grew up in London in a cobbled street like the one above, which sounds grand but believe me, it wasn’t. Today, after gentrification, it is grand and the likes of me have all been priced out, but I still recall stumbling frequently on those stones. And yet, looking at the picture above it goes in the right direction, and holds immense promise. What today’s picture does not show are the siren calls, the multitude of temptations of modern life which beckon us from its pathway. John the Baptist knew that, as you can tell from today’s gospel, even calling those who try it a “brood of vipers” no less! These were the Pharisees and Sadducees, the officials in Temple in Jerusalem, the holiest place on earth. They whose vocation was to lead the people to holiness but instead burdened them with hundreds of rules and regulations, and when they failed, looked down on them as sinners and reprobates. They presumably had come out from Jerusalem to the desert to checkout this John who was causing so much commotion, without their sanction, and were certainly going to condemn him. He beat them to it and condemned them! Note that it seems no-one came to their defense! They had almost certainly never heard the like before. Remember that these were the people who inflamed the crowd against Jesus and called for his crucifixion…. They were utterly set in their ways, certain beyond all doubt they held the truth and no-one was to take that from them. No-one.
We Christians consider John the Baptist to be the last of the Old Testament prophets, the one who would usher in the final time with the arrival of the long-promised Messiah. That was almost certainly what had attracted large crowds: Was he the one who would herald The One? Look carefully at today’s three readings:
From the Book of Isaiah: The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
From St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: For I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, to confirm the promises to the patriarchs, but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
From the Gospel According to Matthew: I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Put together these spell massive change, the like of which had never been seen before or since. The first reading talks of reversing the natural order of things, the second of eliminating the 1000-year wall between the Jews and Gentiles, and the gospel talks of the actual, real, arrival of God in our midst. Welcome to Advent! We have four weeks to ponder and pray over this momentous clarion call to welcome light conquering the darkness, God becoming one like us in all things but sin and what our response to all that should be. Change those ways and habits of ours which are not of God; break down walls which separate us from others for no good reason; welcome the light of God to pervade our innermost being to become a real Child of God. Three Advent goals to be attained before the arrival of the Christ Child.
Bengal tiger suckling piglets, Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Thailand, Animal Bliss.
Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.
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