From the Pastor – December 5, 2021

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.” (Luke 3:3-4)

In the ancient world, there were no interstates.  Roads were little more than worn down paths that were constantly being affected by traffic or weather.  One of the hallmarks of the Roman army is that they built roads wherever they went.  But when there was a battle, roads and bridges would be destroyed in order to stop the advance of the enemy.  But one thing was certain: when word came that someone important was coming, the people would do their best to fix the roads or build new ones so that the entourage accompanying the visiting dignitary could arrive without delay or hindrance.   The same thing is done today.  During the Jubilee Year in Rome, tremendous efforts were made to repair Rome’s streets to welcome the visitors.  And prior to the Olympics in Beijing, very large highways were built to accommodate the visiting crowds.  I remember when I was a senior at Notre Dame in 1984 and President Reagan came to visit.  The entire main road leading to campus was given a makeover, including the laying of new sod!

So John the Baptist is telling us that we need to “prepare the way for the Lord.”  We need to “make straight the paths.”  But for us, the pathway will not be marked on the dirt.  John wants us to clear the pathway to our heart from sin, which creates an obstacle for the Lord to come into our lives.  Isaiah and John speak of valleys, mountains, uneven ground and rough places. We call these obstacles by their proper names: pride, sloth, lust, dishonesty, hypocrisy, selfishness, superficiality, sensuality, hatred, drunkenness and addiction and more. We have to make low the mountains of our pride and egoism. We have to fill in the valleys that come from a shallow prayer life and a minimalistic way of living the Gospel. We have to straighten out whatever crooked paths we’ve been walking.

As we continue to see all of the signs of Christmas around us, we need to continue to remind ourselves that we are still in the Season of Advent until December 24!  As we are buying our presents, decking our halls and pre-planning our meals, we need to remind ourselves that the most important preparation for the coming of Jesus is to prepare our souls!  Prayer, Adoration, Mass and Confession do more to prepare the way for Christ than holly branches, lights, trees, stockings and mistletoe!  Prepare the way of the Lord!  Make straight His paths!

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty