10 December 2006

Second Sunday of Advent

On one of his two feast days during the past year, St. John the Baptist received an unusual tribute at morning Mass: one of our chaplains told the story of how, as a little boy, he heard St. John the Baptist referred to as the "precursor" to Jesus -- and he thought it meant that the saintly herald went around saying bad words. Father went on to explain that he later learned that the word "precursor" comes to us from the Latin verb "to run," suggesting, of course, that St. John the Baptist "ran ahead" of Jesus and prepared his way.

We can take today's Gospel, to heart -- literally -- and allow St. John the Baptist's words to run ahead and prepare a path in our own hearts for the coming of the Lord. The prophet Isaiah's proclamation promises that every mountain and hill will be leveled and every valley will be filled. Let us locate those "mountains" in our own hearts -- those obstacles that keep us from responding with love to all that the Lord asks of us; let us find the "valleys" of our hearts -- those little spiritual pitfalls which await us -- and let us ask the Lord for grace to allow ourselves to be changed. The contour of our heart -- with its mountains and valleys -- may be a little different each Advent, but we are invited to find those growing edges where, with God's grace, we may straighten and make smooth the road for Him who comes. Let us pray that, during this most sacred season, we may prepare a place in our hearts worthy of the coming of the newborn King.
"St. John was the son of Zachary and the word of God came to him not merely that he might treasure it within himself but that he might also communicate it to others."
St. Francis de Sales

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