Prepare the Way

Author: Andrew Scala
December 08, 2018

2nd Sunday of Advent

“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 Christmas season affects me in a different way each year.  Some years I feel incredibly prepared, having completed some shopping while adopting a more giving mindset, even before Thanksgiving! You could say in these years that I’ve prepared my personal way for the Lord. Other years, however, I feel rushed. Not only do I not have a plan for accomplishing any holiday goals, but I also feel a real struggle to obtain a giving and reverent mindset. Likely, this is due to an exaggerated focus on myself.  And still in other years, and perhaps even most often, I find myself completely unprepared mentally, spiritually, and practically. I find myself living moment by moment, frantically darting to and from tasks like a fish seeking food in shallow, brackish water.

I’d imagine that many of us feel similarly, where more often than not we are unprepared for the season where we reflect on the birth of our faith. As I reflect today, I find myself questioning my priorities. I am a prepared person with a neatly arranged Google Calendar, which carries all of my upcoming events and engagements. I can tell you exactly what I will be doing 3 weeks from now. How, then, can I (and perhaps many of you) feel so delinquent when it comes to, as Luke says, “preparing the way for the Lord”?

In high school, I had a history teacher that was widely regarded as one of the best teachers around. Over the years, he had been able to master the incredibly tricky blend of humor and content, all of which was conveyed in a way that made the most unimaginative portions of the Vietnam War consumable for us.

One day, one of my classmates asked Mr. Larkin what the key was to doing well on one of his tests. Mr. Larkin turned to an alliterative poster on the wall, which, in all caps, read, “PROPER PREPARATION PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE.” As I think about my commitment to my faith this Advent, I keep coming back to this statement on preparedness. In our Gospel today, from which these words from Luke are taken, John the Baptist sets out to prepare the way for the Lord throughout the entire region of the Jordan.

I find it clear that my problem in many of the holiday seasons that have passed (and this one) is NOT that I’m incapable of preparing the way for the Lord. Rather, it’s that I don’t seem to care enough to prepare myself for it. The upside to this discovery is that Advent is not over; not by a long shot. There is still time in the 2 weeks we have left to focus on our faith and prepare the way for the Lord. Let us make the choice to have our “winding roads […] made straight, and the rough ways made smooth,” so that we may “see the salvation of God.”

How do you get an A on your Advent report card, ready to meet Jesus when he comes at Christmas? Proper preparation! Amen.
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