Prepare the Way of the Lord
Amidst all the preparations, decorating and shopping this Advent season, the voice of John the Baptist cries out to us, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths!” (Mark 1:3)
The way of the Lord is love and mercy, light and salvation which leads out of the spiritual desert to the spring of life-giving water. To prepare this way for Our Redeemer and making straight his paths, then, means straightening and prioritizing our own lives so that we are worthy to receive him. It means opening our hearts, where his love can heal and sustain us and transform our lives into a unique reflection of his own.
Revealing in himself the merciful love of God, Jesus comes to offer us the gifts of grace and new life. One way to keep the way clear for the Lord to enter into our hearts is by a contrite examination of conscience each day and striving to do better. However, in a more particular fashion, Jesus makes us a new creation in the sacrament of Reconciliation.
There is a struggle between the spirit and the world in which we live. The sobering and sad fact of life is that each of us from time to time sins. Each of us sometimes goes off on our own way, rather than God’s way, with the inevitable adverse consequence that we stumble through a wilderness in the dark. Thankfully, the light of the confessional is there serving as a beacon of love and caring concern which says that inside is an oasis of mercy where the Lord is ready and waiting to receive all who enter.
Confession is the story of reuniting with our Lord and the embrace of his infinite love. In the sacrament, we receive a grace that has a real impact on us in real life. Through this gift that is as undeserved as it is unmerited, not only are we reconciled to God with our sins forgiven, but we also receive his divine assistance to lead a more loving, truthful, and faith-filled life. Whatever small penance we perform is merely a token of our resolve to amend our lives in love and thanks to God, who is all good and deserving of our love.
The message of Christmas is God loves us and it remains one of the marvels of his endless love that through his Son, born in Bethlehem, he would make forgiveness and spiritual renewal so readily available to us. As we journey to Bethlehem, we need to prepare the way for him and bring to him a fitting gift. We want to be able to approach and lay before the manger our own loving, pure and reconciled heart.