Make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Thats the great cry of advent. And we have a model in this preparation for the coming of the Christ child in John the Baptist. Lets confess any ways we lack his integrity, love and prophetic commitment..
Our gospel for this second Sunday in Advent centres on St.John the Baptist and rightly so. For among the saints we dont always appreciate or praise him enough. Christ revered him so much he said that of the sons of men there was in no greater than John. Praise indeed. And its justified, for he stands out as a model of godliness and integrity even today. He was close to Jesus, as we should be. Even before birth he leapt in the womb at the Lord’s presence. The son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary’s cousins, he chose from the beginning to be Christ’s prophet. He made, as scripture says, “in the wilderness of highway for Our God”. We’re called to do the same in our wilderness world; to couragiously proclaim Christ in a world of recession, moral collapse, and growing secularism. And do so humbly like John. For he laid everything at Christ’s feet, saying he was not fit to undo the strap of his sandal. He saw himself as a poor servant doing all he could to promote Christ, and then stepping aside.
There as no Satanic pride there, though he’d a right to be proud. Like all good people he’d have laughed to be called a saint. Yet he was so favoured of God and practiced, as we all should, the great law of scripture: “You shall love the Lord yor God with your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole mind, and your neighbour as yourself”. He left everything, as monks and nuns do today, to witness to Christ, and bring the lost to God.
Indeed, when I think of John I’m reminded of Anthony the great hermit and early model of religious life. He too fled from a corrupt world to serve Christ in the desert with every fibre of his being. Yet though he tried to escape from the world, it flocked to him. Similarly, every aspect of society came to John to learn from him wholesome integrity of life and purpose. And to them he gave real spiritual food, they heard an uncompromising prophetic voice that told the truth, however unpalatable it was. He called all back to God and right in the violent immoral age into which Jesus was born. Indeed he died trying to save Herod, who unlawfully took his brother’s wife. He called a spade a spade and the corrupt world took terrible revenge on him, Salome demanded his head on a plate. No wonder Christ said there was no greater prophet. For his supreme virtue was humility; he gave way to Christ in grace-filled self-emptying when his work was done.
In our age were all called by our baptism to be similar prophets for Christ, “unworthy servants” even as we do everything right. Advent calls us specially to that prophetic role, to stand up for God and what’s right, even if we’re crucified as a result. We may not all be capable of John’s forthrightness but each of us in our small way can uphold faith, truth and goodness before our family and community today. We can bear witness in our particular environment to God’s values rather than those of the godless world of which Satan is lord. So that like John we will also be raised to glory untold. For all else fades to dust and ashes but Christ is lord of love, goodness, peace, and salvation both for our happiness in this world and forever and ever, amen.
So as God’s people, called in today’s spiritual wilderness to make straight a highway for our God, lets profess our faith..
Prayers of the faithful
And as prophets for today lets ask for all our spiritual needs..
For our Holy Father and the bishops of the church, that they may have courage like John to stand up for, and promote the faith before the world no matter how much they may suffer as a result..
For civil leaders that they may not persecute the church leaders and prophets of today as the corrupt powerful of John’s day did..
For our youth that receiving a greater baptism than John’s, the baptism by water and the Spirit in Christ, they may live it out in humble service of Christ within his holy Catholic church..
For ourselves in our homes, that our children and all around us may be inspired by our devotion to Christ and his church..
For the sick, that through our care for them as though they were Christ himself, they may know the love and care of God..
For the dead whose faith is known to God alone, that having completed their work here in this world, they may come with the help of our powerful communal prayers to their final rest..
We address these prayers, through Christ to God our heavenly father who always listens to those who call upon him, amen.
We in these islands have had our own John the Baptists. I think, for example, of St.Kevin the great apostle of Glendalough. He fled to a cave in the wild heart of the Wicklow mountains. But later seven churches were established there; like John or Anthony; the whole world came to learn integrity and holiness at his feet. He even persuaded the Vikings to turn from the plunder of the area. And as archbishop of Dublin he became a great light of Christ for his day. Lets ask Mother Mary to help us imitate such faith, love and humble service of God..Hail Mary.