Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent (C) – December 9, 2018
For all of us studying here at Notre Dame, it may be tempting to say that Advent comes at a rather inconvenient time of year. As we rush toward the end of the semester, our priorities naturally turn to exams, papers, projects, and plans to travel home. Academic pressures charge full steam ahead, time easily slips away from us, and before we know it, Christmas arrives amid food, presents, parties, and carols. As students, we might not feel that we ever properly celebrate Advent. Despite the increased pace of life during these weeks, however, Advent actually comes at the perfect time of year. Precisely when we feel most burdened, most deprived of rest, and furthest from our spiritual center, it is then that we most need to slow down and step away from busy routines that consume us. Here we can reexamine our inner selves and ask how we might carve out space to let Jesus enter anew and transform our minds and hearts. In this weekend’s Gospel, John the Baptist sends forth an urgent cry inviting us to seek this transformation. What rough edges can we smooth out? What paths can we make straight again? What valleys of doubt or mountains of pride can we make level? External demands will surely test our internal desires to observe these weeks as a season of joyful hope. May we still seek God’s grace to heed the Baptist’s call this Advent to prepare a way for Jesus.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry announces that the Lord is nigh.
Awake and harken, for he brings glad tidings of the King of kings!
Then cleansed be every heart from sin: make straight the way of God within,
and let each heart prepare a home where such a mighty guest may come
To heal the sick stretch out your hand, and bid the fallen sinner stand.
Shine forth and let your light restore earth’s own true loveliness once more.