Advent is a season of waiting. This waiting is not a passive one but an active waiting, where we are invited to prepare the way of the Lord. That is why Luke quotes from the prophet Isaiah: “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his path. 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” (Isaiah 40:3-4)
The idea that the very landscape in which the people were living, the valleys and the hills, needed to change to prepare the way for God indicates the way for God indicates the tumultuous transformation that was necessary. It was challenge to what was commonly accepted and what was commonly practiced. There was something wrong with the way of the world.
Making straight the pathway was about correcting the crooked thinking that was present in people’s minds and telling the difficult truths about what was occurring.
John the Baptist is known for the rare and yet crucial qualities that are needed for any meaningful reform and transformation. That is why the Church always presents the person of John the Baptist every second Sunday of Advent. He is the strangest combination of humility and conviction. He creates his own baptism of water and tells us that it is the baptism of the Spirit and fire by Jesus that supersedes all. He was born into privilege but dresses like a pauper. He knows and lives the life of letting go; emptying himself, decreasing so that Christ may increase.
John the Baptist was able to put his ego out of the way. He had to put his own message away because he knew that the Master, Jesus Christ is in the arena. But remember he started the habit of letting go right from the early age of his life. Even before Jesus came, he was already in the wilderness eating locust and honey, depriving himself the good things of life. That was why it was easy to leave the stage easily, when Jesus came. So, humility is the end product of a thousand letting-goes and a thousand act of devotion, which for John, gradually bedded God in.
Preparation is very good. John was able to edge God in because he prepared himself, right from the days in wilderness. We need to prepare. With the penitential dimension of this season, we need to accept that we are in need of a Saviour, by being humble; acknowledge our sins; go to confession; and not cling to anything in ourselves.
Always remember that opportunity only comes to those who are prepared. Seneca the Younger said, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Only those who prepare, will be the ones who will meet the Lord at Christmas. So, who does God use? Only those who are prepared. He was able to use John the Baptizer because he prepared himself. Would you want the Lord to use you to accomplish great things this Christmas and the rest of your life? Why not prepare and make the way for him.