Our Gospel today finds us listening to John the Baptist in the desert of 1st Century Palestine as he cries out echoing the message of the prophet Isaiah from 700 years earlier – God is coming so be ready. You don’t want to miss it! Fix the roads He will travel on. Make them flat and smooth. Eusebius, who became the Bishop of Caesarea in 313, makes it clear in the Office of Readings today that Isaiah’s prophecy is not to be fulfilled in Jerusalem where the Temple is neat and tidy, but in the desert. It is this wilderness, this deserted place, where God will appear and make his plan for salvation known to humankind. Eusebius says John the Baptist commands us to prepare the way to our heart so we can receive the Word of God. That the “rough and trackless ground is to made level, so that our God may find a highway when he comes.” In short, God is coming whether we know it or not. Whether like it or not. Whether we are ready or not. So, be ready.
With only 2 weeks of Advent left, I must ask myself – are my pathways for God to enter my heart crooked, hilly, and rough? Or have I fully opened my heart to allow Him in? If not, just what am I doing to prepare the way of the Lord and be ready to receive Him when He comes? Because, God’s plan is for us to spend eternity with him – and there is nothing on this earth that even begins to represent how awesome that will be! But to receive God into our hearts and realize His plan, we must be ready. And that’s what Advent is all about.
Advent is a time to turn away from our sins, from the distracting things of our material lives, and turn toward God, asking His pardon and forgiveness as we pardon and forgive others in our life. Advent is a time for letting go of feelings that we have been wronged by someone. It is a time to make peace with the things that are holding us back – a relative we haven’t spoken to, a friend or neighbor we are angry with, a co-worker that has slighted us or driven us crazy. This Advent, may we turn to God and prepare our hearts to receive Him again at Christmas, with peace inside of us and leaving the sadness that stops us from really living. By leveling the mountains and valleys of our lives, we will be ready for the coming of the little child who will be born in each of us again this Christmas. May you have a Blessed week preparing to receive our God.