SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT (C)
Preparation for VIPs: When the President or Prime Minister of a country is scheduled to make a public appearance, his staff prepares weeks and even months in advance to make sure that the proper protocol will be observed, and the leader’s security will be assured. Similarly, detailed preparations precede the appearance of religious leaders like the Pope. Programs are scheduled, choral presentations are practiced, gifts are bought, and special persons are chosen to present them in the most gracious manner possible, so that the honored one is duly recognized and appreciated. When rock stars make a tour, elaborate preparations are made for their coming; their entourage would arrive ahead of time to get things ready for their concert. Stages would be set; lighting would be adjusted, sound checks made; every care would be taken so that the needs of each guest would be fully accommodated. Only when we put the same care and commitment into our spiritual Christmas preparations will “all mankind begin to see the salvation of God.”
In today’s gospel, St. John the Baptist quoting Prophet Isiah (40:3-5) invites us to spiritually prepare ourselves. During the time of Jesus, when a king proposed to tour a part of his dominions, he would send a courier before him to tell the people to prepare the roads. So, John the Baptist is regarded as the courier of Christ, the King. But the preparation on which he insists, is a preparation of heart and of life. He says: The King is coming; Mend not your roads but your lives. We are asked to make our lives fit for the King to see. What John and Isiah are speaking of are more of inward preparation of ourselves, than the external preparation.
1). We need to make our crooked and winding paths straight. All of us would prefer to travel in a straight or plain road rather than a winding road. We do not like to travel on a road with potholes and too many curves. In our lives too, there are so many roads of relationships. Sometimes it gets winding and becomes crooked because of misunderstandings, anger, unforgiveness. And we do not want to rectify those relationships; we hold on to the wining and crooked relationships; we say like the tagline of ad: Jo teda hai, vo mera hai. If we want to prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus worthily, then, we need to straighten all our crooked and winding roads through Forgiveness. As Buddha says that by being angry, we ourselves get hurt. It is just like holding a hot iron rod and trying to throw at our enemy, but in the process of throwing it our hands gets burnt first. Let us try to forgive one another and pray for those who hurt us as Jesus advises Peter, “I do not say to you seven times but seventy- seven times” (Mt 18:22). Forgiveness brings healing in our relationships, healing within ourselves and also in the lives of others. ‘But if we do not forgive others their sins, our Father will also not forgive our sins’ (Mt 6:15).
2). We need to prepare ourselves by filling every valley. We all have created our own deep valleys within ourselves; we have created a deep emptiness in our lives. The valley of loneliness, the valley of depression, the valley of jealousy, and so on. These valleys are to be filled with love, peace and joy of Jesus. Janis Joplin, a world-famous Rockstar ended her life at the age of just 27 because of depression. She had everything in her life: money, fame, fans. Amidst all these she was not happy at all. She longed for love, peace, and joy. She was lonely in spite of everything. Ultimately, she out of desperation and loneliness ended her life. Jesus says “I have come to give life, life in abundance” (Jn 10:10). Only Jesus can give us that life and fill the empty voids of our valleys. At times we try to fill our emptiness with the worldly things. But all worldly things are of temporary; they can only give us satisfaction or happiness for a while. The eternal happiness and peace only Jesus can give us. And for this reason, Jesus asks us to follow His commandment of ‘loving God, oneself and loving others as you love yourself’ (Mk 12:30-31). St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata says that no person should ever feel that they are unloved, unwanted and uncared for; “If we can see God in our neighbor, we will love Him and want to serve Him in our family, our neighbor, in a dying man, a poor widow, a hungry child.”
3). Every mountain and hill shall be brought low. Is it possible to lower the mountains and hills? Yes, it is possible, we all have huge mountains of pride and ego within us. We cannot welcome our Lord with such attitudes. Our Master asks us to give away our pride and switch on to humility. Just as he said to Zacchaeus to come down from the tree because he was going to enter his house, he is asking each one of us to come down from the tree of our pride and ego. If we come down of our pride, arrogance and ego then the baby Jesus is going to enter our lives. St. Teresa of Avila says, “Humility is the ladder to heaven.” Our pride and arrogance will only put us down and distance us from our friends and relatives and most importantly our Creator. Jesus rightly explains us the consequences of being proud through the Parable of Rich Fool (Lk 12:13-21). St. Peter says “God opposes the proud and shows favor to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). When the world-famous gigantic Titanic ship was ready for its first voyage from Southampton to New York city, one of the Employees of the White Star Line in his interview at the launch of the Titanic Ship said, “Not even God himself could sink this ship.” But ultimately, we know what happened to this gigantic ship at its first voyage. On 14 April 1912, around midnight because of its collision with an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean the ship sank. Around 1500 people lost their lives. “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Lk 14:11).