10 December 2009

Religious Roadwork

You might stump the helpful worker in the orange apron if you walked into home depot and asked for a tool to help you "lower a mountain."

We hear so often, during this most sacred season of Advent, about the call to make straight the way of the Lord. We're told to fill in the valleys and level the mountains. And in today's first reading from Isaiah, we hear that the people of Israel, the beloved people of God (yes, believe it or not "worm" and "maggot" are terms of endearment ... lost somewhere in translation) will be made into an instrument to help along the roadwork: a sharp, new, double-edged sledge.

The Lord promises the impossible and asks us to trust Him. We are invited a clear a path for His coming. We are asked to discard all that is unworthy of the coming of the Lord. Perhaps we could think of that path as the road which leads to our heart. What do people encounter when they meet us? What kind of response do others receive when they ask us for a favor? Better yet: How do we greet those who inconvenience us? Are the mountains of our impatience and the valleys of our irritation stumbling blocks which might hurt someone who seeks our attention? Maybe we can't shave down all our mountains in one Advent season, but perhaps we can find a way around those we can't conquer right now -- a tunnel, perhaps -- which might help us to make a level road for all those who approach us. And when the waiting is over, may the newborn King find a smooth journey to our hearts.

"Fill up the valleys; that is, fill your heart with confidence and hope because salvation is near at hand. The sight of our great faults brings with it a certain ... shock ... which unnerves the heart and often leads it to discouragement. These ... ditches and valleys must be filled up for Our Lord's coming!"
St. Francis de Sales

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