Saturday, December 04, 2010

Make Straight His Paths

December 5, 2010
Second Sunday of Advent A

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. Isaiah 11:3b-5

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6

In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea (and) saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: “A voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” Matthew 3:1-3

The roots of our piety are important to appreciate. The good people of our lives have opened our hearts to Christ alive in everyone. The bad people of our lives make it hard to see Christ in anyone. We know by the Resurrection that Christ in his humanity is safely ensconced in heaven. He lives on in our humanness by our piety. The saints are the transparencies of Christ in our time. They approximate who Christ would have been in each of the times they lived. They reach out to the last and the lowest of our human confreres and bring a measure of Christ’s love by how they help their brothers and sisters. We learn how to live like Christ by their example. The saints are the shoots that sprout from the stump of Jesse. They are the buds that blossom around us in their goodness. They are the ones who make it possible to say to one another; “The Christ of my heart recognizes the Christ of your heart.”

Justice is the band around the waist of the follower of Christ. The followers of Christ make people safe around them. Faithfulness is the belt upon their hips. There is no harm or ruin around them. They fill their surroundings with knowledge of the Lord. What the prophet Isaiah said about the coming of the Lord finds up to date expressions in how the people of God give their hearts and efforts to fix what is wrong with our world. The good people whose example we study bring us to a place where peace and justice reign. Christ is no prisoner of their hearts. Their hearts are wide open to what they can do to make the dwelling place of the Lord glorious. They are a signal to the nations that Christ is still alive in our world.

We must seek to glorify God with one voice. What Christ does for us, we must do for each other. We must welcome each other as Christ welcomes us. Reaching out with God’s truthfulness, confirms our belonging to Christ by our Baptisms. We are born into our world to prepare the way of the Lord. We must make straight the paths of each other that the coming of Christ be prepared. What we do for preparation for the coming of Christ needs to be done with an eye to the best welcome we have ever given him. If there is someone we have kept at a distance who is part of our family, we must reach beyond our hurts to the wonder of the child who is coming into the world as a baby needing parents and adults to care for him. This Advent we need to reach beyond our fears of what another might do to us to feed the baby Christ of each other. We need to treat one another as we would have treated the baby Christ if we were there. We have to allow the growth that love nourishes to be the style of our Advent preparation for the coming of Christ.