Vocation Meditation -
Second Sunday of Advent, 2011
“Prepare the way of the Lord .. make his paths straight.”
In our liturgy’s first reading for the second Sunday of Advent, the prophet Isaiah prepares his people to be ready to come home from their exile in Babylon, for their God has rescued them. John the Baptist in the Gospel today picks up on Isaiah’s message to prepare the way for the Lord. But this time it is the Messiah, the long Awaited One who is to come. Through baptism in the Jordan, a sign of God’s forgiveness of their sins, John invites his people to make a journey of the heart, a spiritual journey home, in preparation for the Promised One of God. Through this baptism of John, the people are seeking God’s grace to unbind their hearts from any roadblocks to welcoming the Holy One. Having yearned for the Messiah for centuries as a people, they are anxious for their dream of salvation to be fulfilled in a life of peace, prosperity, freedom from their enemies, justice, and true, lasting community united in God.
Advent is about entering into the mystery of God’s gently breaking into the world to save us. It is a time of waiting, of expectation, of journey of the heart. How might we best prepare the way for Christ the Son of God to be born again into our hearts?
John the Baptist offers us two very helpful ways in today’s Gospel, seeking repentance of our sins and living humbly before our God. St. Bernard of Clairvaux adds to this:
“Advent is above all the sacrament (sacred sign) of the presence of Christ in the world as Savior. He is among us now. He dwells in our hearts to show us how to judge between good and evil. He is the wisdom of God ready to teach us. Yet in order to have his light we must use the grace he gives us to turn to him in our difficulties his grace. By fortitude he strengthens our weaknesses, …he stands up for us, ... he never grows tired, but we must call on him.”
This Advent, what do I need to let go of within myself to allow more room for Christ to make his home in my heart? What can I expect to receive from Him if I humbly place myself before him as He has done with me that first Christmas?
O Long Awaited One, I open my heart to you this Advent. Journey with me these days, be my hope and my joy as I discern my way in life with your help. Amen.
For the full Gospel reading for this Sunday, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site.