We move along our journey to Christmas, hopefully no one has wandered off hypnotized by the glitz and glitter. Now we listen for the voice of John the Baptist as he calls the Jews to repentance.
It was Isaiah who alerted us to his coming and his message to prepare the way of the Lord. The third verse of the fortieth chapter is repeated in each of the four gospels to begin the ministry of Jesus. My book of readings for the Sunday Masses gives for this Sunday (Dec 10) a reading from the fortieth chapter including verse three. The Gospel passage is from Mark. He begins his Gospel with verse 3. Next Sunday when we read from John 1, we will hear again IS 40, 3.
Hear the words of Isaiah 40, 1-5 (NABRE).
Comfort, give comfort to my people says your Lord.
Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
That her service has ended, that her guilt is expiated,
That she has received from the hand of the Lord double for all her sins.
3A voice proclaims in the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill made low;
The rugged land shall be a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
This passage is also a tract in the Messiah.
John the Baptist is the contractor constructing this massive highway for the Lord to come and to make his dwelling among His people. Envision those big earthmovers down on 52 and soon to be on Business 40. Isaiah sees John removing all the obstacles and walls that stand between us and God.
On the first level the prophecy of 40, 3 is fulfilled. All the evangelists are in agreement that John prepared the way for his cousin Jesus. However we still wait for when Jesus will come again. Jesus is raised and has ascended. He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us to the ends of the earth. Then He will come again. All will be in all (1 Cor 15). We as Christians are employed to build that road. This is our purpose as church.
On a personal level as we listen to John bellowing on the banks of the Jordan, he is calling us to repent and to turn to the coming Lord. Is your heart really set on the Lord Jesus? John could be compared to a cardiologist cleaning out all the blockages stuffing up the veins and arteries in human hearts.
Prepare our hearts, O Lord our God. To prepare the hearts of the Jews, God sent his prophet John the Baptist to the jews. John calls out to us to look deeply into our hearts. Do not stop with the surface dirt but see what rests inside and is the source of thoughts, words, and deeds. Let the light also shine upon all the groups and communities which you belong. John‘s call goes deep and broad. He wants us to be for the coming of the Lord.