Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Advent: a time to meet Jesus

2nd Sunday of Advent

Luke 3:1-6

Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent and the Gospel focussed on the second coming of Christ. In this the second Sunday of Advent the focus is on the announcement of the coming of Jesus to his public ministry with the appearance of John the Baptist.

Advent is a time of 'actively waiting', a time in which we wait for the Lord to come to us, while we prepare at the same time for His coming. This was very clear in the message last week, to be ready when Jesus comes. This week we read about John the Baptist, and his call to us to prepare the way and Saint Luke quotes here the prophesy of Isaiah saying "a voice cries in the wilderness: prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight".


But what does this mean, to prepare the way for the Lord? How do we make His path straight? The prophecy of Isaiah already contains the answer: we don't. It is not us who do it, but it is God himself who fills in every valley, lays low the hills and make the rough roads smooth. But what is our role then? It is to open our hearts to allow God to work with us. While the preparation for the second coming seems to lie in the future, the invitation this week is much more focussed on the present. Advent is a great time to step back for a moment and look where we are at. Where is God in our lives? Are we really listening to Him? Do we allow Him to make the sometimes winding and rough roads in our hearts straight and smooth?

In this narration Saint Luke starts by listing the important rulers of the whole known world at the time. He does this to indicate that while all these rulers lived in their splendid palaces, while having all types of entertainment in their exercise of power, it was at this precise moment in time that the Word of God was walking among them. While the wordily rulers had no notion of what was happening in their busy lives, the event which was to shape mankind forever, was unfolding under their noses, John was preaching in the wilderness. Jesus did not come to visit their palaces, a place where surely He was not invited, but the Word did come to John the Baptist in the wilderness.

It is very easy to get carried away by the world, but grace filled times like Advent are a strong invitation to stand back and reflect once more. It is an invitation to think deeper and pierce the secrets of which the answers can only be found in God. The first reading calls on Jerusalem to take off her dress of sorrow and distress, and to put on the beauty of the glory of God for ever. God will return to His Holy City, He comes to establish the Heavenly Jerusalem, and He asks us to be part of this. He will make the paths straight, the rough road smooth, if only we would allow Him to enter in and to let Him guide us.
Jesus is not just a person we will meet at the second coming, indeed He is a friend knocking on the door of our hearts today, wanting to meet us in our normal daily lives. Therefore, let us listen to the voice in the wilderness, who is calling us out of 'our noisy palaces' to His presence in the desert of Advent, to listen in the silence we find in the quietness of our hearts and to hear the Lord calling to us. He is coming, and He will not delay!

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
    every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
    the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
-Luke 3:1-6

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