“The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”
The Book of the Prophet Baruch 5:1-9
by Sisters Maureen Niedermeyer, OSB
The readings from the prophecy of Baruch was originally written to console those left behind after Israel’s leaders were deported from their homeland. Imagine their joy as they awaited the return of these exiles! God prepared for their return by leveling the road so nothing would slow down the progress of those returning home. How can you and I prepare our hearts to soon welcome the Savior into our lives? Someone great is about to come into our lives in a new and marvelous way. What needs to be hollowed out in you to make room for Jesus?
St. Paul is speaking to us today just as he did to his beloved Philippians: “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue it until the day of Christ Jesus.” His message is both tender and affirming. Perhaps at times we may feel like nothing is changing in our spiritual life, yet the Holy Spirit is entering and completing the task begun in us. The progress will take a lifetime of patient expectation. Let us be consoled by Paul’s prayer for us: “that your love may increase ever more…” We can trust his prayer because it is the power of God’s love alive in us. During this Advent season may we enlarge the focus of our prayer to include the church and our government leaders so that all hearts and decision are guided by love.
In the gospel Luke makes clear that God’s good news is for all people who have open ears and hearts. John moves through the region with the cry to repent for the forgiveness of sins. How do we make the rough ways smooth and winding roads straight? Maybe our preparation is to look deeply into our hearts to see how we treat others whom we find troublesome or irritating. Or we may notice that someone who lives with us needs our help. Do we answer their need or just wait for another person to respond? Daily we are offered choices to make the way straight for God’s coming. Creating a world of mercy and justice is a task we hope to move forward on so that all the world will know God’s saving power.
From the Rule of St. Benedict
“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way: the love of Christ must come before all else.” The Tools For Good Works, 4:20-21
“Prepare the way of the Lord make straight his paths: all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Luke 3: 4,6