In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert:
"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 winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."
The Gospel of the Lord.
by Terry Davis, SNDdeN
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“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 winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
Today’s Gospel repeats the plaintive cry of the Baptist. His Advent plea was to make crooked ways straight and rough ways smooth. It was a cry that was largely ignored in John’s own time, especially by those in positions to make a difference.
It sounds painfully familiar as our world seems deaf to the voices crying that the many ways life is terrible for so many must be changed. We look to the leaders in our countries and in our church and so often see little concern for those suffering the most from all that is broken and harsh. And it would be easy to stay in a dark corner of judgment. But I believe that John’s voice echoes in our own hearts. We are called in today’s Gospel, not only to look outward, but also – and perhaps first – to look inward.
What in us is crooked, rough and harsh for others? Is it the way we treat those who disagree with us? Is it in our reluctance to respect opinions that are opposite our own? Are we too quick to judge others? Have we done everything we can to be part of creating a less violent world? And have we acknowledged our own need for the Baptist’s voice to reach us, to sink deep into us and move us to real change? This graced season of Advent offers us a chance to allow this cry to reach us and turn our actions toward the desperately needed task of making crooked ways straight.
About Sr. Terry Davis