Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; 64:1, 3b-8; Psalm 85; 2Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8
Advent offers us the opportunities to celebrate the first coming of Christ and also to prepare for his second coming. His first coming was a very great event that God himself had to prepare. All the rituals and sacrifices of old were all in preparation for His first coming. We too have to prepare for his second coming. When shall this be? We do not know. The second reading reminds us that we should not be anxious over time and date. With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day (2Pet 3:8). For us humans, we have our own idea of time; we live in time and so we judge things to be late or early; slow or fast. God does not live in time and so we cannot say that God is late or God has hurried. Thus, Peter says that the Lord is not slow in coming as some may understand slowness but he is patient so that we can repent and be saved. During this period of God’s patience we are called to prepare for him. Preparation therefore, is the central theme in our readings today.
In the light of this, Isaiah in the first reading and John in the gospel reading cried out saying: prepare a way for the Lord, make his path straight (Is.40:3, Mark 1:3). This is a time when preparation is everywhere in the air: preparations for end of year parties, Christmas clothes and gifts; sending cards, arranging food, everyone is ‘getting ready’. Everyone is looking forward and getting ready for Christmas. ‘Looking forward’ and ‘getting ready’ are basic Christian activities: Every Christian is expected to look forward and get ready for what lies ahead. Beyond looking forward and getting ready for Christmas we are called to look forward and get ready for the second coming of Christ through conversion. Therefore, during this period it is proper for us to embrace the sacrament of penance, engage in retreat whether as groups or individual and undergo proper examination of conscience. In these and many other ways we prepare for the Lord and make straight his path.
Both readings tell us about “a voice crying in the wilderness”. John was the voice crying in the wilderness. John the Baptist was the voice of God to people. We too, must be God’s voice to people. In the world there are many voices, but only one voice is reliable, and that is the voice of God. If you follow the voice of mortals you commit blunders. Follow the voice of God you will prosper. We are God’s voice to the people; we must voice out the truth, we must voice out for the voiceless and make Christ known. Where injustice we should bring justice. We don’t need to be the Chief Justice of the nation before we can do this; in our places of work and business let the voice of Christ be heard through you. In the class room let the voice of Christ be heard through you.
Again, John did not only say repent the kingdom of God is at hand; he also did penance; he wore camel hair and ate locusts and wild honey. So, he had a strong witness dimension in his efforts to bring people to Christ. His witness and courage provided him with great credibility and as such many people considered his message. Today, not only that preachers will hardly preach the gospel of repentance, they equally lack credibility. Our dimension of witnessing must include preaching repentance and living life of penance and renunciation. Preachers must engage in penance and renunciation. A good life style is a worthy gospel for any believer to read.