Preparing His Way Within

2nd Sunday of Advent
By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

This season of Advent is a time of grace for us. It is a time of grace given to us to prepare our hearts, soul and mind so that we are ready to receive Christ at Christmas. Advent is a time of grace to remind us that Jesus is the reason for Christmas. Advent is the time of waiting as we prepare ourselves to welcome God who became man and who by example showed us how we should be able to live like him for others. We wait for someone we love and we long to meet that person.

In the first reading, Prophet Baruch reminds the people of Israel that they have to share the gift of joy with others by calling them to put on the garment of integrity. God is asking them not to be part of the sad story of corruption. In this reading, God is assuring that he will flatten any high mountains and fill any deep valleys in order to make the ground level. This is an invitation to change their external behavior and reconcile them with the Lord. In this prophetic song, God promised to bring back His people from exile in Babylon.

The Prophet says by giving the people hope and confidence, inviting them to stop mourning for the past and prepare to celebrate the future. They should replace the robes of mourning with garments fashioned from the justice and glory of God. The garment of our sorrow and afflictions is the death and suffering that has come upon the Israelites because of their disobedience. The word glory appears repeatedly in the reading. The prophecy states that God would bring His people back to Jerusalem. Through sin, humankind has experienced spiritual death and the absence of the Divine Presence of God. Jerusalem is known as a mother about to receive back her exiled children.

In the second reading, we have the apostle Paul stating that he prays with joy for the Philippians, his loyal partners in the work of evangelization. He was praying for them to be blameless and pure. He prayed that they may have the grace to discern between right and wrong, good and evil. We too, like the Philippians, must be known to be men and women of goodwill. We can be witnesses to the world and to one another by maintaining our Christian morals and values. Because God the Father will begin and complete his good work in them

Today’s Gospel reading presents us with the words of John the Baptist, “Prepare the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth: and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” He calls out, “Prepare a way for the Lord!” John the Baptist comes “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

There are three words which are closely linked – baptism, repentance, and forgiveness. Baptism is the call to be initiated in the life of Jesus and be cleansed from all sins. It is a symbolic action through which people expressed their reconciliation with God by hoping that their sins were totally washed away. ‘Repentance’ is the forgiveness of sins and is understood as meaning change of Heart, not just sorrow for past sins but a total and radical change of outlook in our relationship with God and other people. It calls for radical and genuine renewal and conversion of heart. Forgiveness means letting go, liberation from the chains of sin and evil. Forgiveness is seen as the dropping off of heavy baggage or burdens.

During this Advent let us prepare our hearts for Christ by turning away from sin and evil and giving ourselves completely to God so that when Christ comes, or when we are called from this life, we are ready and prepared. What better way of doing this than making a very good confession receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

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