As we begin this most sacred season of Advent, we may think of this season as a time to remove obstacles on our journey to the manger. Those of us who pray the Liturgy of the Hours will be spending a great deal of time with the prophet Isaiah during the Office of Readings. One may look at this book as one which calls us to embrace hope and to reject the temptation to give in to pride. Isaiah felt that the judgment and punishment which the Israelites brought upon themselves were due to Israel's and Judah's pride, made manifest in their desire to shape their own destiny instead of being faithful to Yahweh's covenant for them. Despite the gloom and doom of his words, Isaiah called the Israelites to wait in hope for the coming of a Messiah, the promised descendant of David's line.
His word still speaks to us today as it calls us to be vigilant in keeping our eyes and our hearts on the star as we set out on this four-week pilgrimage to the birthplace of our savior. Let us look carefully in our hearts and ask ourselves what obstacles might stand in the way as we journey to Bethlehem. Do we need to reconcile with someone at work, at home, at Church? Do we need to examine how we spend our time? Do we need to spend more time with the Lord, more time in prayer, more time with our family, with our friends? Do we need to be more patient with someone in our life? Let us find the obstacles, the detours and roadblocks and let us ask for the grace to negotiate them in a way which will help us to grow in grace as we approach the manger later this month.
"Our dear Savior and Master came to teach both the little and the great, the learned and the simple. Yet we almost always find Him among the poor and simple. How different is God's spirit from that of the world!"
St. Francis de Sales (Advent Sermon 1620)