‘Prepare the way of the Lord’: this is the proclamation for the Second Sunday of Advent. Jean Danielou wrote over 40 years ago these words that so aptly describe our present day reality: “The Baptist’s message is addressed to a world held captive by sin and death, powerless to free itself, a world destined for death and incapable of justice, a world without hope. And his happy vocation is to proclaim that all the bonds will be broken and that love will overcome. This is already the message of grace” (Prayer, p.37). Christ is always coming—‘he comes, comes ever-comes’, writes the poet Tagore—Advent emphasizes the God ‘who will be’ and so John the Baptist continues his proclamation so needed right now for salvation: for the saving grace that will free us from hopelessness, from self-centered ways, from narrowness in perceptions, from rigidity that compromises our ability to receive the Spirit hovering over our lives. John the Baptist cries out in the wilderness of our hearts and in the wilderness of our lost world: ‘prepare the way’….prepare your hearts, prepare your lives….this message hidden only if we are living at a distance from our ‘center’, from what is most true, authentic, compassionate…from what is most God-oriented. Turn for a moment into the silent depths: there his voice will be heard once again….‘prepare the way’…in John’s message there is already grace…for it contains light to guide us forward to receive God’s gift….it is a message of comfort, it opens up for us and our world a way of salvation: a way of peace, of healing, of forgiveness.
An essential ingredient of John the Baptist’s message is repentance. This is not Lent but it is a time to turn inward for there is the gift….there will be born more of Christ’s life for each one of us in a personal way. Contemplative space, silence, inwardness: this helps prepare the way: step out of our busyness, take space from the noise of the political landscape right now…the One who is coming, the One to be born will bring peace…it is important first that this gift begins with us….it will ripple outward….each one of us together forming a living body of faith where the God of unconditional love will be manifest.
Danielou says that Advent is a “pedagogy of faith”, but not a faith that God exists, more strikingly that “God intervenes in history” (p.38). God intervenes in our personal history and in the larger history of humanity. This is a miracle, is it not? Our ‘living faith’ pivots around this miracle. This is how close the Divine life is to us…in and through this personal relationship with the Christ of God we are given the Love that no one can extinguish.
Our God is coming bringing the new of hope, the new of compassion, of peace, of a way of meeting the ‘other’ who is different from us. This newmanifestation of God’s life is what we all need right now. Amen.