Prepare the Way

 

Bells ringing off into the distance, the sight of fluffy white snow outside, the smell of turkey cooking in the background, the crackle of the warm fire. These are some of the senses of Christmas! However, what is Christmas without Advent?

The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which also comes from the Greek word parousia meaning “coming”. As Catholics during the season of advent we get the opportunity to prepare for the coming of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. How do we do that?

I remember as a kid preparing for Christmas. I would get my Sears wish book out and circle 3 things (actually 10) that I wanted Santa to give me. I would then proceed with operation “Don't be on the Naughty List” by helping out my mom with chores, doing my homework on time, not playing video games for 5 hours straight, and lastly, I would write a personal note to Santa and stick it with some chocolate chip cookies and milk in the fridge. The following morning, my little brown eyes would well up with tears gazing at the multitude of presents sprawled beneath my Christmas tree.

Now could you imagine going through all of that effort in preparing for the coming of Jesus during Advent?! We have such a beautiful opportunity to encounter our Lord as the vulnerable little boy in the manger, innocent and humble in this preparatory season. We can take a lot of inspiration in scripture in the life of St. John the Baptist.

In the canticle of Zechariah found in Luke 1:76-80 it says “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” John the Baptist grew and became strong in spirit and went all over the region around Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Luke 3:4-6 speaks of John the Baptist as the “voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘prepare the way of the Lord, 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 smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” John the Baptist gave us a preview of what the ministry of Jesus was to look like. He was a humble servant up to the point of his martyrdom by preparing the way for the Lord through baptisms.

As I mentioned with how I prepared for Santa Claus, there are parallels that we can draw from this. If we exercise the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance we can really come to know God, especially during the advent season. By exercising prudence, we can be mindful of our actions. In exercising justice, we do what is right for our relationship with God and for our neighbour. In exercising fortitude, we remain faithful and put our trust in the providence of God. And lastly, in exercising temperance, we learn to detach ourselves from overuse of materialistic things that replace God in our lives.

On my second year of NET, my team and I had an opportunity to take part in a Christmas parade in which thousands of people attended to watch us dressed as elves, handing out candy canes to the youth, as well as NET pamphlets! There was a young man that I met in the crowd and he deeply expressed his gratitude for us being a part of St. Paul's Parish. We ended up hugging for what seemed like 2 minutes before I ended up sprinting up to the van. I was deeply moved by this experience and found so much consolation in this encounter.

We are all missionary disciples of Christ and we are all called to prepare the way for our Lord like St. John the Baptist. Once we prepare the way for others and also for our own hearts to accept our Lord, we can truly join with the multitude of angels gazing in awe at the manger singing “glory to God in the highest heaven!”

Elton Jarvis, Mission Staff