Prepare the Way
Sunday, December 09, 2018 2nd Sunday of Advent 1st Reading: BAR 5:1-9 2nd Reading: PHIL 1:4-6, 8-11 Gospel: LK 3:1-6
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.
John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
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While Christmas is only a commemoration of Jesus’ historical coming, there are compelling reasons why our preparations shouldn’t just be ceremonial. Among the reasons is the possibility that He will come again in an event called “the end of time”. With our ailing environment making itself felt more forcefully through calamities of surprising magnitude, the cosmic end is no longer a game of doomsday prophets. We have to take the warning of the end of time seriously. Those who refuse to take this seriously will do better if they think about their death. Whether it is the end of time or the end of life in death, one needs to be prepared for its eventuality. It is wise then to take Advent seriously as a death drill similar to the fire drill or earthquake drill we introduce in schools. As fire and earthquake can strike when least expected, death could strike anytime, Christmas or no Christmas!
This takes us to the urgency of John the Baptist’s message of repentance. Repentance is about sin, and sin is about the self we have enthroned in our hearts after ejecting God. This play of the word “sin” is instructive. The letter “I” in the middle of this word stands for what Sigmund Freud calls the “ID” – that set of uncoordinated instinctual trends in a person in Freud’s structural model of the psyche. When this big “I” stands between the S (self) and the N (neighbor), SIN prevails barring the Lord’s entry.
Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of the Lord whether in the event of the “end of time” or in the event of our own death. In whatever form the Lord comes, repentance dethrones the big “I” from our hearts, giving way to Christ who comes to us in any manner he deems appropriate.