2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT – C
Like the Israelites who journeyed in the desert for forty years towards the Promised Land, the Church is also journeying in the desert in this Season of Advent towards Christmas which prefigures the coming of Jesus in Parousia. Inasmuch as God prepared the Israelites for the journey by sending them guides and prophets, the Church is also being guided by St. John the Baptist who is the greatest prophet of all times during this Advent journey, This Sunday we listen to St. John’s message.
During the olden times in the Mediterranean region, the visit of a king necessitated the paving of the way for the king’s entourage. The prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament prophesied a “voice” that will cry out in the wilderness who would prepare the People of God for the coming of their King. This “voice” was no other than St. John the Baptist. His message was “Prepare ye the way of the Lord! Make his paths straight, every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be leveled, winding ways be straightened and rough roads made smooth!”
In this journey, the desert now is not anymore the physical harsh realities of sand and dunes but our very own hearts. It is through the heart that we listen to John’s message as we journey with the Church. Year after year as long as we can remember we had gone through many Advents and Christmases, so what’s new this year? Have you seen an old bark of a tree peeling off to give way to the new trunk? Or an empty shell in the shore abandoned by a crab? Or some dried skin of a snake in the woods? They are just some few examples found in nature where the old reality gives way to the birthing of the new for to withhold means death. It’s more than just the process of ageing which is inevitable in life. Science sees life as continuously evolving; our faith tells us that God is continuously re-creating. We just do not grow one year older during our next birthday; should we not become better persons than the year before? Like the tree, crab or snake, we shed off the old traces of our skin because we deserve a much better life than we had before. This is what the Church offers us in our journeying through Advent: A NEW HEART! But it comes with a price! If our heart is not anymore functioning normally as it should, it may require some medical procedures like surgery otherwise it will lead to other complications. If not given the proper attention it will stop breathing which will lead to death. Think of those unhealthy energies which we have been keeping all these years in our hearts: pride, anger, unforgiveness, hatred, addictions, egotism, vices, indifference, etc. Consider them as blockages which are responsible for our heart problems not just in the physical sense but more so with our relationship with God. They are the mountains, hills, rough roads and valleys spoken by John the Baptist: they block the coming of Jesus in our lives. Like a cardiologist, John the Baptist speaks to us telling us what’s blocking in our encounter with Jesus our King. Let us give our hearts a break! It may require some spiritual procedures, just like an open heart surgery with the physical heart, to make it alive once again. We have to endure the pain for to refuse such an opportunity is to withhold something great that we deserve: a new heart from God. When we are able to do it, then our hearts will breathe again in welcoming Jesus, ready to love and be loved….