It’s the second week of Advent! We’ve cleaned the “windows,” that is, we’ve cleared a way for our eyes to see what is truly necessary for our life; now it’s time to clean the “floors,” which are the base, the foundation of our life, that support our whole house.
Gospel of the Second Sunday of Advent
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.”
1. Work in Progress
“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.”
Advent is not only a time of awaiting the second coming of the Lord, but it is also a time of preparation for Christmas. Waiting for the Lord means to desire his arrival, his presence among us. Therefore it is necessary to prepare his way, to clear out the space ahead of him, as we do when a guest comes to our house...in a short time, everything changes because a guest is coming.
The protagonist of the Gospel for the second Sunday of Advent is John the Baptist, the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin. John comes from the desert and has lived “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” His message is clear, imperative: Prepare the way of the Lord! These words of Isaiah’s prophecy, pronounced by the Baptist’s voice, remind us that to prepare the way for Jesus-who-comes, we need to clean the foundation of our life.
When we welcome someone into our house, one of the things we do is clean the floor. When we clean the floor, the first important thing to do is to remove objects from the floor. The floor reminds us of the solidity and the firmness of the house. It must be cared for attentively so that we don’t ruin it. Prepare, make straight, fill, and make smooth are the verbs that show us how to smooth out the irregular foundation of our house.
Life is full of dangerous holes, valleys, mountains, hills, and arduous roads: they are our insecurities, our solitude filled by the search for “likes,” our fears that we carry within us, that do not fulfill us. These are some of the spaces that absorb so much of our energy, that make us settle, that separate us from the desire to truly become ourselves. Therefore it is necessary to adjust the road, resolve those situations that are not going well, that we feel are wearisome: it is necessary to free ourselves from the search for a happiness that is connected only to good grades, to the moods of someone close to us, to mundane, superficial things. It is necessary to have the courage to lower our gaze, to abandon sentiments of competition, bitterness, ungratefulness.
What will you take away this week?
2. Preparing the Feast
“All flesh shall see the salvation of God!”
But what salvation do we mean? “To save something” in the digital world means to save it from being obliterated, forgotten, cancelled. “To save something” in a theological sense means to save it from condemnation.
What is the lens that we can use to re-read this term, “salvation”? There is no doubt: God wants to save each one of us, but he wants to do it counting on our collaboration. None of us should feel excluded from the encounter with the untiring love of God, from the coming of his kingdom. All of us can welcome the Lord’s coming in the story of our life.
Our guest will arrive because God always keeps his promises, but will he find the “floors” of our house clean and shiny? What will we use, and how will we use it, so that the floors will be ready to welcome him? I suggest to you the “soap” of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Sometimes, tempted by evil, we find ourselves on roads that sooner or later lead us away from God and lead us to break our communion with him and with others. The Sacrament of Reconciliation allows us to re-establish our relationship with the Lord and with our neighbor every time that sin interrupts it; it pushes us to adopt new styles of life according to the logic of justice, peace, tolerance, and attention to the other, in order to enable us to rejoice in the presence of the Lord-who-comes. Finally, I suggest using a good “floor wax” that covers every imperfection: patience. Often our own efforts do not reach the desired results; we want to convert ourselves and better ourselves in a certain aspect of our life, but we do not do it. For everyone Advent is an invitation to continue on without getting discouraged, even when things do not work out as we would like.
What will you prepare this week?
3. Whispered Words
O Jesus, dear friend, you continue to knock on the door of my heart. You ask me to prepare myself for the encounter with you, and to walk the road of life together with you. Make my steps firm in your way. Teach me to recognize you in the faces and gestures of those I meet every day, in nature, in your Word, in the Eucharist. Let me savor the waiting for you with amazement and renewed enthusiasm, without taking anything for granted…because with you, everything is an amazing gift.
What will you say this week?
(Translated and adapted from the Vocation Team of the Daughters of St. Paul in Italy: http://www.paoline.it/blog/giovani).