For the complete Sunday readings click here.
This past summer my family went camping in southern Minnesota at beautiful Frontenac State Park. The park is situated on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River where the river widens into Lake Pepin. Saturday morning we decided to go on a hike down to the river. The trail was one of those switchback trails that ultimately went down the side of a very steep bluff. After some time playing by the river, we started back up the trail to the top of the bluff. After about the second switch back my five year-old daughter suddenly blurted out, “Wait! We have to walk all the way back up?!”
Up and down into a deep river valley is tough hiking and our kids were troopers, but tired troopers. They probably would have voted for an easier path if they had the chance. Both our first reading and our gospel talk about making the trail easier to travel. The reading from Isaiah talks about filling in valleys and making mountains and hills low. In the gospel from Mark, John the Baptist is identified as the messenger preparing a way and making straight the paths for the Lord.
John doesn’t regrade roads or level hilly interstate for Jesus’ physical travel, but instead straightens and prepares the pathways into people’s heart. That way when Jesus arrives, his way into people’s hearts and lives is straight and easy.
If you’ve had an encounter with Jesus Christ, I bet there is someone who straightened the path to your heart. Who helped to prepare you to know Jesus Christ? Who has helped you to meet and fall in love with God? Who has removed the obstacles to a deep faith that were in your life?
This year it would be easy celebrate a beautiful but private Advent and Christmas. But John the Baptist challenges all of us to make straight the paths to our heart and maybe, if we are called, to help make straight the paths to someone else’s heart. Maybe you are being called to help someone else know Jesus Christ. Maybe it’s a neighbor or a friend or your spouse who needs your help removing the obstacles to faith from their life. Whatever the case, John the Baptist challenges us take action, to not wait, but to prepare a way for “One mightier than (us) who is to come after (us).” Come Lord Jesus!
Pray for one person in your life that you think may need your help to know Jesus more. Then take action and invite them to Mass or another event at HNOJ this Advent.