PREPARING OUR FOR THE LORD’S COMING
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
1st Reading: Bar 5:1-9; Psalm: 126. R. v.3; 2nd Reading: Phil 1:4-6. 8-11; Gospel: Lk 3:1-6
One Night, 4 college students were playing till late night and could not study for the test which was scheduled for the next day. In the morning they thought of a plan. They made themselves look so dirty with grease and dirt. They then went up to the Dean and said that they had gone out to a wedding last night and on their return the tyre of their car burst and they had to push the car all the way back and that they were in no condition to appear for the test.
So the Dean said they could have the re-test after 3 days. They thanked him and said they would be ready at that time. They went to their different homes to prepare for the test. On the third day they appeared before the Dean. The Dean said since this was a Special Condition Test, all four of them were required to sit in separate classrooms for the test. They all agreed as they had prepared well in the last 3 days.
The Test consisted of 2 questions with a total of 100 Marks:
Q. 1. What was the name of the car you pushed three days ago? ………. ………. (2 MARKS)
Q. 2. Which of the tyres burst? (98 MARKS)
(a).Front Left (b) Front Right (c) Back Left (d) Back Right
We can imagine their answers.
This story reminds me of the saying: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Another saying that complements this is: “Proper planning prevents poor performance.”
One of the beautiful human qualities which is very obvious is our ability to plan. This quality is a divine gift from God. God is the greatest master planner; and since we were created in the image and likeness of God, then it means that we share in his ability to plan.
In the creation story of Genesis chapter 1 and 2, we see evidence of how beautifully well God plans ahead of time. In the beginning, there was darkness all over the earth, and God had to create light first to illumine the world and make vision possible. And then God created the dry land and water before creating vegetation, plants, and fruit trees. For if they were no lands and water, the vegetation would not survive. God also made the creatures in the sea and on the land after creating the food they would eat. And then before God made man, he prepared for him a beautiful garden that would sustain and shelter him. All these show that God is a beautiful architecture that plans and acts in preparation for the future. We should always remember that we share in this divine attribute of God. And if this is so, we need to activate this mood of preparation in this period of advent.
John the Baptist was a prophet who came to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. He left the wilderness and went into the region of the Jordan preaching a baptism of repentance. Today, we hear him cry out in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord.” We may ask “How can we prepare the way for the Lord?” John the Baptist tells us how. He said:
“Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth.” (Lk 3:5).
These words of John the Baptist should not be understood or taken literally. It should be seen as a figurative expression of how we should prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord.
So what does he mean when he said:
“EVERY VALLEY SHALL BE FILLED UP”
A valley is a gully; a steep that prevents smooth movement. So a valley could be seen as a lack; it could represent something missing. Applying this to us, the valley in our lives represents something missing in our relationship with God. It could be our prayer life, our faith in God, or the virtue of love. It could be the love lacking in our marriages, the parental care that we have failed to uphold in your homes, the charity we have failed to show our neighbour, and the promises and vows we made to God which we were not faithful in keeping. John the Baptist tells us today that these are the valleys we need to fill up. These are the failures we need to amend as we prepare for the Lord’s coming.
John then further said:
“EVERY MOUNTAIN AND HILL SHALL BE MADE LOW”
We know how high a mountain can be. It is as high as preventing us to see what lies behind it. And unless we climb a mountain, we cannot see what is behind that mountain. So in this sense, we can say that a mountain is an obstacle or a hindrance. It figuratively represents those attitudes and lifestyle that hinders or prevents us from moving forward and seeing the blessings God has in stock for us. Pride is one of them. Pride is like a mountain that rises before us. It makes us to see ourselves only as capable of doing anything while disregarding God and our neighbour. God hates this attitude. 1Pt 5:5 says “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Pride is the beginning of failure because pride comes before a fall. So we are called to learn humility in this period of advent. To be humble is the only way to level the mountain and hill in our lives.
Lastly, we also heard John say that:
“EVERY CROOKED WAY SHALL BE MADE STRAIGHT, AND THE ROUGH WAYS MADE SMOOTH.”
Some qualities of good roads are that they are straight and smooth. Winding or overly curved roads are death traps because visibility is affected. Rough roads with potholes hinder smooth movement. So the voice in the desert calls us today to straighten the curves and rough edges in our spiritual lives. We are often inconsistent and unstable like winding and curved ways. We are hot today and cold tomorrow. We are good now and bad the next minute. In our work places, do we alter figures, embezzle funds, and involve ourselves in false and evil plans that would cost our fellow worker his/her job? Do we keep ungodly relationships, sneaking out of our homes to involve ourselves in what we hurt our marriages and God? These are the crooked and rough ways we need to make smooth. And we can do this by living a sincere and upright life.
So when we observe these words of John the Baptist, we get ourselves ready for the Lord’s coming. Let us begin now to prepare by giving these changes a chance in our lives. Preparation is a divine gift from God and should be respected. When we begin this change in our lives no matter how little, God will grant us the grace to become better. It is only when we give God a chance that he can change us.
A soap manufacturer and a pastor were walking together down a street in a large city. The soap manufacturer casually said to the pastor, “The Gospel you preach hasn’t done much good, has it? Just observe. There is still a lot of wickedness in the world, and a lot of wicked people, too!” The pastor made no reply until they passed a dirty little child making mud pies in the gutter. Seizing the opportunity, the pastor said, “I see that soap hasn’t done much good in the world either; for there is much dirt still here, and many dirty people are still around.” The soap man said, “Oh, well, soap only works when it is applied.” And the pastor said, “Exactly! So, it is with the Gospel.”
Give the gospel a chance in your life today
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, help us to prepare our hearts for your coming. Amen.
Happy Second Sunday of Advent