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Second Sunday of Advent

December 4, 2005

Blessed Sunday!

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Psalm 85 “Lord, let us see Your kindness, and grant us Your salvation”
II Peter 3:8-14
+ Mark 1:1-8

A voice cries out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord!”

When a king comes, we prepare the way. Even today, the arrival of an “important” person is anticipated by weeks, sometimes years of preparation. There’s security to arrange, lodging for the crowds that will want to see the dignitary, arrangements for just the right environment, food and service to impress the honored guest, and a host of other details. If the dignitary is coming by ground, you want to make sure the roads are in good shape, potholes filled in, etc. In Biblical times, when the king visited, low spots in the road were raised, and hills shaved down to make his travel less difficult.

The King is coming. Not just any old king, but the King of Kings. And He brings us wealth! Spiritual treasures beyond our wildest imaginings! He comes to comfort, to feed, to nurture, to redeem us so that we can enter into Heaven, where every tear will be wiped away and mourning shall be no more. We want His way to be smooth! We want Him to get here as quickly and easily as possible, not to be held up in a pothole somewhere, or slowed by the extra effort required to climb hills. We have work to do. Our hearts have valleys in them where sin has eaten away a cavity; they have mountains (or perhaps walls) built to keep certain people out. We have attached ourselves to things of earth instead of things of Heaven. But the things of earth will pass away. If we can’t let go of them, we’ll go with them, and miss out on the eternal joys our King has for us. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t appreciate God’s creation, but that we need to let it point us back to God. That’s the whole reason for its existence. If we use the things of earth in a way that strengthens our citizenship in Heaven, in the new heavens and new earth God has prepared for us, then the loss of the things of earth will not be able to hurt us.

St. John the Baptizer knew this. That’s why he cried out so urgently, “Do penance! The reign of God is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). His life in the wilderness was a visual aid to his message. Our hearts are all too often like a trackless wilderness, overgrown with obstacles to the progress of the King, and devoid of any clear path, let alone a royal highway.

The Baptist’s words ring out as clearly today as they did 2000 years ago. “Do penance! The reign of God is at hand”. Indeed, the reign of God is among us, every day drawing closer to the end of time, when penance and repentance will no longer be possible.

May we heed his words, and reap the rewards of an eternity in which we’re fully alive.

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