In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler 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 region around 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, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Advent brings a time of hope and expectation for new life. Luke quotes the prophet Isaiah:
In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD….
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed
Preparation is needed to “see” God’s saving action. Images include creating a level playing field and facilitating an encounter with God.
The prophet Baruch gives hope to God’s people. Paul, in Philippians, wants us to grow in awareness to then choose well:
… that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value …
What are the “rough places” and disordered affects in my life? Can I perceive and react to suffering – and also to grace! – in my midst?
—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits Central and Southern Province. He serves as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso, Texas, where he ministers to people who are migrants and refugees.
Loving God, as I once again anticipate the coming of Jesus, help me prepare by both looking inward and outward to recognize your presence.
—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ