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Salvation

PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD.

 

Today is the second Sunday of Advent.  Two lines from our readings stand out for me.  “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” and “Every valley shall be exalted.”  One of those lines reminds me of the play “Godspell” and the other Handel’s Messiah.  These two lines summarize the message of this second Sunday of Advent.

 

“Prepare ye the way!”  John the Baptist, one of the Christian Scripture’s most colorful characters, got people’s attention with that message.  He called people to “Repent”, to change from former ways of thinking and acting but even more to a radical open-mindedness, a willingness to consider and commit to something new that would change and transform their lives.

 

The Gospel tells us that everybody was flocking to John at the Jordan river to confess their sins, their failures to live as a true child of God and to be Baptized to a new way of living.  There was nothing private about this Baptism, it was communal and a public demonstration of a commitment to live in a new way and according to a new set of standards.

 

It was a public acknowledgement of the way things were, but an acceptance of a dream about how things could be.  Isaiah in our first reading offered a vision of a world without divisions and barriers symbolized by valleys and mountains.  Everything that plagued people, families and nations would be smoothed out.  The whole world would see how good God is.  All peoples would learn that the power of God is the power of love, that God enters history not as a warrior but as a shepherd.

 

Mark’s version of John the Baptist’s message is different than that of Matthew and Luke in that he has John the Baptist preaching three things: repentance, forgiveness and the coming of one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.  Mark often gives us the Cliff Notes version of the Gospel.

 

This year, the Second Sunday of Advent comes in between two great feasts of Mary: the Immaculate Conception which we observed this past Friday,  and our Lady of Guadalupe which we will observe this coming Tuesday.  The Immaculate Conception celebrates Mary as the first one redeemed by Christ…the first fully human person who fulfilled all her potential as a child off God and collaborator in his plan of salvation.  The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe brings the Gospel message uniquely home to the Americas.  We celebrate the truth that Incarnation implies  inculturation.  The message of God is for all people’s of the earth.

 

This Second Sunday of Advent invites us to be dreamers.  Isaiah and the images of the Blessed Mother give us a vision of what life can be like.  We are created with the potential to share divine life, to share the joy of being a part of humanity at peace, smoothing out what divides us and rejoicing in the many ways our different cultures can incarnate the love of God.  However, we will never make it happen if we don’t first imagine it as a possibility.  The call to repent is a call to let go of our puny expectations….a call to let go and let God.

 

The promise of Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit….He will baptize with water and the Holy Spirit…that tells us that we like Mary can be overshadowed by God and become bearers of Christ’s presence in the world.  We bear Christ’s power to unlock the chains for fear, hate, alienation and mistrust.  We bear Christ’s power to forgive those who have wronged us and beg forgiveness from those we have wronged.  We bear Christ’s power to heal scars of mind and soul, to dismiss demons of loneliness, despair and self-loathing and to restore those dead in spirit to life.  The glory of the Lord can be revealed in us and among us.  Let us open our minds and hearts and together prepare the way of the Lord.

 

Fr. Carroll Mizicko, OFM

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