"Prepare the Way of the Lord"
As we enter into the season of Advent, the four weeks of preparation for Christmas, the figure in the scriptures who stands out most strikingly is St. John the Baptist. He is the prophet who summons us with the words 'prepare, make ready the way, open your hearts to conversion.' St. John the Baptist played an important role in calling attention to the people of his time, in order that they open their hearts for Jesus. He asked them to turn away from sinfulness and to open themselves to God's grace and goodness. We know that St. John the Baptist had many followers, and yet in the end, he directed everyone to the Lord.
As we begin this preparation season during this 'Year of Faith' we ask what we can do to prepare ourselves for the great feast of the Incarnation, or the birth of the Son of God into our world. Pope Benedict XVI has urged us to learn more about our faith and to study and pray, in order that our lives can bear witness to Jesus in our world. The preparations taking place around this feast in many ways, are merely secular ones. We prepare gifts, decorate our homes and offices, we prepare special meals and we send greetings to friends and family. These are all important, but the true meaning of Christmas for us is the awareness that God 'so loved the world that he gave his only son' in order that we might be saved. This great act of love and generosity is really beyond our imagining and comprehension. We wish we could be as generous in our actions and endeavours.
The four weeks in Advent give us a chance to prepare properly for the great feast of Christmas. Not only do we engage in the secular preparations, but we know that we must prepare ourselves interiorly. We seek forgiveness from God for our sins through the Sacrament of Penance, we recognize our need to reach out to those in need and those who will struggle in this Christmas season. We pray earnestly for family members and friends, in particular for those in distress, and we direct our thoughts to the meaning of Christmas who is Christ the Lord, with whom we seek to deepen our relationship in love.
These four weeks, marked by the candles on the Advent wreath, remind us that we need to be spiritually prepared in order to prepare a way for the Lord into our hearts. He desires to come and strengthen us in our journey through life with all its joys and stresses. Our prayer, our reconciliation and our generosity will all make this preparation possible. 'Prepare the way of the Lord'. May St. John the Baptistʼs call truly inspire us.
Bishop Fred J. Colli