Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the miter that displays the glory of the eternal name. For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship. Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God. Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones. For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God. The forests and every fragrant kind of tree have overshadowed Israel at God’s command; for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.
Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11
Brothers and sisters: I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
Gospel Cycle Cycle C
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
We can hear the joy and gladness shouting at us in the first reading, from the Prophet Baruch. This prophet is so certain that God will redeem His people, that God will bring them back from exile, that God will fill them with all life and all good things.
We continue to celebrate Advent and ponder the mighty works of God. We can ask in our own hearts: do I personally believe in redemption? What does that mean for me? Do I believe that God will take me by the hand and lead me? How do I respond to the living God? What does God mean in my life today?
These are all Advent questions. Never do we ask such questions with the intention of judging ourselves or others, but only so that we can know the truth of ourselves. We want to know who we are, to some degree, so that we can invite God to transform us—responding to His own personal invitation.
Advent is about longing for the Savior. Advent is about recognizing the truth about ourselves and about our world. Advent is about God becoming one of us so that we can become one with God. God Himself invites us to recognize the truth about ourselves and about our world so that we can understand His love to save us.
One of the great symbols and realities of Advent time is John the Baptist. His whole life is about pointing to Jesus Christ. His life is about announcing the Kingdom of God. Often John the Baptist is seen as a rough and tough figure but his message today is a message of the pure love of God for us. John the Baptist tells us that God loves us and that we must prepare the way for God to be present in our lives. God wants to save us and our world.
John the Baptist preaches to us that we must prepare God’s way, into our world and into our own hearts. It is almost as if we can hear John the Baptist’s message also in the second reading, from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: “that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
May this time of Advent find us more prepared to listen to the Lord, to make straight his paths, to know what really is of value. May we be found ready to receive the Lord on the day of Christ! With God’s help all is possible. As we wait in Advent, may our hearts be transformed entirely to God’s love.