My dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,
In the history of the Church there have been people who heard the Word of God in the wilderness. Benedict for example heard the Word of God at Subiaco and later on at Monte Casino. It was at Manresa that Ignatius heard the Word of God and Francis of Assisi had a very intimate experience of Jesus at a cave in Laverna. These men had to withdraw themselves from the world that they were to influence later on.
In the scriptures too wildernesses and mountain tops are preferred places of God encounter. Book of Exodus chapter three verses one and two tell us that the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses by means of a flame of fire on Horeb the mountain of God at the west side of the wilderness. It is again at Horeb, hidden in a cave that Prophet Elijah recognized God in the gentle whisper of a breeze (First kings chapter nineteen verse twelve). In the letter to the Galatians Chapter one verses fifteen to seventeen, Paul Testifies that it is in Arabia, in the wilderness that God chose to reveal his son to him.
The Gospel of the day tells us that the Word of the Lord came to John in the desert, in the wilderness. Today we too hear a voice shouting in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. The valleys will be filled and the mountains and hills made low. Everything crooked will be made straight and the rough paths made smooth.”
Preparing the way is not easy. It takes time, it takes a lot of hard work. And may be it is good to ask who would be interested in preparing the way? The answer I believe would be: first of all one who is convinced of the need of the way; secondly, one who is unhappy with the present condition or state of the way; thirdly, one who is also concerned about all the others who might use the way; and finally, one who is ready to prepare the way, knowing that sometimes, he himself, or she herself is not going to use the way.
Yes dear friends, a voice cries out today in my ears and in your ears: crying out to us, repent. Prepare the way for God to come down to earth! For his glory to be revealed! And more, so that we can walk towards God.
Prepare the way of the Lord: and the way of the Lord is the way of holiness. How shall we prepare this straight and Holy way?
- Cutting down mountains: mountains of pride
- Filling up the valleys: with what? With love, charity, deeds of mercy and kindness
- Straighten the winding way, the crooked way: by choosing to live a life of integrity and honesty, avoiding all forms of hypocrisy
- Smoothen the rough road: by removing from our lives, anger, hatred, jealousy and other such vices.
May the Lord help us to prepare our hearts this advent by His Word and by His Spirit. May he help us to bring down our high and proud thoughts. May he help us to soften and straighten our rugged and crooked hearts. And may he remove from our lives every hindrance so that we may be ready to carry out His will on earth.