by Fr Joachim Robert
Theme: Prepare the Way for Christ
Last week we lit the candle of ‘Hope‘, marking our journey of Advent that restores and renews our hope. It is God who is coming to save us. And today we light the candle of ‘Peace‘ and our First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah reminds us of this whole image of peace, of what the coming of the Saviour does to our lives. The image of tranquility, of harmony and of peace.
And the journey that we take, dear friends, from the first Sunday of Advent, all throughout the journey to welcome Jesus is a journey of preparation, where we prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus in the manger of our hearts. And the Gospel Acclamation, dear friends, so rightly puts:-
Prepare a way for the Lord, make his path straight a
and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.
It is an invitation for you and I, so that we are able to make that preparation towards this God who comes into our lives. The question is how can we prepare ourselves? How can we re-orientate our lives in this God who wants to make His dwelling among us?
In the First Reading again he says, ‘A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from its root.‘ We see how amidst that challenges and obstacles that comes around the shoot or plant, something slowly buds and grows towards this image of peace and harmony that Isaiah speaks about. And the last paragraph of his reading, he says:-
That day, the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples.
It will be sought out by the nations and its home will be glorious.
So as we prepare our hearts, dear friends, we need to see how can we prepare our hearts. And Jesus gives us the standard of how we should prepare our hearts. We need to allow ourselves to be configured more and more into the image and likeness of Jesus. Because as we look at Jesus, as we focus our gaze on Jesus, He rids away all the brokenness, He rids away all the dark areas of our lives from our obstacles and challenges and make more space for Jesus to make His dwelling.
And the Second Reading from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans invites us that as we prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus, it must be expressed in the way we treat our brothers and sisters, in the way we relate to one another, in our acceptance of them. Because as we look interiorly in our lives during this time of Advent, we must realise of our own brokenness, of our own limitations and how we were able to come back to this God who liberates us and saves us. And how God was always patient with us even though when we did not know what to do, even when we went astray, even when we were so full of ourselves.
And Advent, dear friends, becomes a time of preparations where we re-integrate the values of Jesus into the way we see the future in Christ.
And as you see in the Gospel today, many people came and wanting to have repentance, and wanting to be baptised. And you and I, dear friends, come into this whole aspect of drawing ourself towards this Christ who wants to liberate us, who wants to lead us into peace in our lives. But as we take that step forward towards that River Jordan, we are reminded that John the Baptist points us towards Jesus who is a greater Messiah. And we need to be reminded that as we come with the repentance of heart, pulling ourselves from the darkness of the obstacle of sin that always holds us down, to remind ourselves that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
And sometimes, dear friends, we can be like the pharisees and the seducees who came for baptism but perhaps did not want to have a change of heart and mind. And all they wanted to do is to go through the motion without having a total repentance of heart. Their knowledge of scripture, their knowledge of the faith made them more self righteous than becoming a person who is able to accept their brothers and sisters in love.
And that is what we are called to do, dear friends. If we speak about justice, if we speak about peace, if we speak about harmony even in our own lives, in our own family, in our own community, we need to be embracing each other, in our differences, in our uniqueness, in our strength and even in our weakness.
And as we take that journey towards inclusivity, as we take that journey towards welcoming God into the mangers of our hearts, preparing our lives for the coming of Jesus who makes His dwelling in us, we must ask ourselves during this time of Advent, dear friends. Like John the Baptist who went into the wilderness for a time, and he was like the voice that cries out in the wilderness. And some areas in our lives will cry out to us, in our own sense of guilt, our own sense of shame, will make us realise of where we need God. And are we ready to take that step forward in preparing ourselves for the coming of Jesus in our lives? And it is not that we want to follow Jesus because everyone is following Him, but because of our deep love for Jesus, because of our deep conviction that He is the Lord and Saviour of our lives.
And as we prepare our hearts, dear friends, let us be reminded by the Gospel Acclamation again:
Prepare a way for the Lord, make his path straight
and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.
God wants to use you and I, dear friends, to bring salvation to the world. By the way we treat our brothers and sisters, by the way we relate to one another, we are indeed preparing our hearts to welcome Jesus and to make Jesus known towards others. And as we check ourselves, and as we prepare our hearts, we need to always be reminded that in our following of Jesus, in our preparation of Christmas, we need to take stock and we need to use this as our yardstick. Jesus is the yardstick and from the fruit of the spirit we can say:-
On Him the spirit of the Lord rests a spirit of wisdom and insight,
a spirit of counsel and power, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.
If we are bearing fruit, if we are able to produce fruits like Jesus, in patience, in acceptance, in loving, in charity, then we know that we have made a dwelling for Jesus in our hearts.
Let us ask, dear friends, let us ask the Lord to prepare our hearts and allow that brokenness and the situations and the darkness of our lives to slowly wither away as we prepare the mangers of our hearts to welcome Him during this season of Advent, asking the King of Peace to come and make his dwelling there.
Click below to listen to the homily and watch the video:-