Second Sunday of Advent 2019 – Prepare the Way of the Lord …
Last Sunday I mentioned that each of the four Sundays of Advent has a good reminder to offer for our spiritual life. I began by suggesting what I mean when I say that we each have a spiritual life, an ordinary life marked by moments of discovering the ways in which God is at work in us.
I never said it in that first post, but that personal discovery is what we sometimes mean by speaking of discernment about the ways of God. The scriptures last Sunday spoke of the need to stay awake and be alert, to be attentive to what is stirring within us. I ended by suggesting the notion of beholding.
Matthew’s Gospel excerpt for this Second Sunday introduces John the Baptist as a key character in Advent. John’s message is one of repentance. The evangelist refers to Isaiah’s prophecy: The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
From the outset of John’s preaching, the strength and seriousness of his message is stressed. He does not have gentle words for the Pharisees and the Sadducees. What is clear is John’s sense of being a precursor to the true messenger, Jesus, the one who will come after him.
The excerpt from Isaiah offers some beautiful words about the Messiah – a shoot from the stump of Jesse – and the peaceful kingdom that will come about.
Jesse was the father of David. The line of David seemed to have fallen into decay by the time that John the Baptist had started to prophecy and the Messiah was born. Mary, the Mother of the Lord, was poor, obscure and unknown.
Despite her seeming insignificance, Mary was to play a role in restoring the line to its ancient glory. That poor woman would be the means through which Jesus would break into human history.
How are we challenged on the Second Sunday of Advent? A good starting point is to ask ourselves if we are in need of the kind of repentance that John speaks of. Is there a change of life that is being offered to me? Do I need to press a reset button to lead to personal reformation and get my life back on track? This season is not Lent. It is Advent.
This season has a certain element of reconciliation, that need we all have for letting go of old ways and setting our face toward a more positive future. But it is primarily about preparing for the birth of Jesus. Are there matters in our hearts that mean that we are in need of being free enough to receive Jesus this Christmas? Let’s ponder the ways in which we can prepare the way of the Lord.
Mary is pregnant with great possibilities. She is the one who will bring the Messiah into the world. Perhaps her pregnancy is a reminder of the possibilities within each of us. Is there a movement in my heart that is waiting to come to birth?