05 December 2015


baruch 5:1-9; philippians 1:4-6, 8-11; luke 3:1-6

during the christmas rush, a man caused quite a stir among the shoppers in a mall. he asked some why they spent so much on christmas, and why they stressed themselves out over this tinselled holiday. to some he said: «christmas is about hope and love, isn’t it? the best gifts we can give are to give kindness and compassion to each other;» to others: «why don’t you forgive or reconcile with family or friends you’ve lost over the years? the spirit of the christ child should embrace the entire year, not just christmas.»
many nodded in agreement. some quit shopping and went home to be with their families. others bought an extra toy or clothes for charity. some even left to find a quiet place for a few moments of prayer.
word got out to the store managers about this man. they had security escort him from the premises. he wasn’t really hurting anyone, but he had to go, they said; he was ruining everyone’s christmas.

were john the baptist to appear today, he probably would ruin everyone’s christmas! he would remind us of the same things… and tell us that the coming of GOD among us means more than cleaning and decorating, shopping and cooking. it means preparing the way for the saviour.

the readings of today invite us to prepare the way of the LORD.
in the first reading, to the exiles in babylon, baruch offers a song of hope in GOD who will one day lead them home. an image his song evokes is that of road construction! GOD orders that mountains be levelled and valleys filled up for the building of a royal road on which «israel may walk safely in the glory of GOD.»
luke takes up the same image to interpret the message of john the baptist to a people victimized by corrupt priests, and by the collusion of herod and the romans. john offers hope that «all flesh shall see the salvation of GOD.»

the salvation promised by baruch and john is GOD’s work. ours is to repair the road for GOD’s coming. our task is to repent. recognise and admit that «i’m going the wrong way»; and then «change direction». repentance is awareness-admission plus action.

what are the areas in my life that need «repair»?
what are the obstacles that have to be removed? 
- there are mountains that need to be levelled: individualism, racism/communalism, sexism… 
- there are valleys to be filled: despair, loneliness, pain…
- there are crooked places to be made straight: perversity, abuse, immorality, violence…
- there are rough places to be made smooth: oppression, injustice…
let’s bring on the equipment… and get to work on our hearts to prepare the way for the LORD!