As we enter into the second week of Advent, we enter into a time of understanding. A time when God speaks through the Prophet Isaiah proclaiming: "Give comfort to my people says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Explain to her that her service is at end and that her guilt is expiated - for the glory of the lord shall be revealed.”
Listen again to those last words - for the glory of the Lord shall be revealed. How more comforting can it be than to know - the Lord’s glory - is going to be revealed
One who receives comfort is one who is put at ease of all grief and set free from all worry To have comfort is when one knows that God is with them and what better time to know God is with them than to hear the prophet foretell the coming of the messiah. Isaiah announces that a messenger is coming before the messiah One he refers to as a voice - crying out in the desert proclaiming the way of the Lord and telling everyone to make straight his paths. The voice - is John the Baptist - who is announcing the coming of the Word - who is Jesus the Christ, our Lord and Savior.
This voice is heard in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sins and people - were listening to him and being - baptized by him in the Jordan River – and acknowledging their sins. An amazing way - to find comfort
So often people wonder why the lord delays the promise of his return or his second coming but it is not a delay as much as it is a time of patience - that God is showing to those who are not yet prepared for his return, so they can become ready. Listen to the reading from the second letter of St Peter.
The Lord does not delay his promise as some regard ‘delay’ but he is patient with them not wishing that anyone should perish - but that - all should come to repentance
Jesus is giving us time to prepare our hearts before he comes. That is what the season of Advent is all about - a time of preparing. How can we better prepare than to make our way to the Jordan - to go - where the messenger is stationed - to be where the voice - is being proclaimed.
As the people approach this prophet who lives on a wayside – preaching not in a temple or any other place in Jerusalem - but on a riverbank - they find what appears to be a new Elijah - dressed in camels hair - tempered in spirit - because of being in this place of solitude. He is one who welcomes everyone. He is the one who is called to share with them – this long awaited message - yet a bittersweet message as it is a message of promise but also a message for reform - a message that will expose them to the truth but also - reveal to them - the promise of salvation.
As the people cross over into the river bank - it not only seen as a reminder of their crossing over from the desert - into the promised land - but it is - seen as a crossing over from - a place of - self-absorption into a place of - redemption as they now go down into these holy waters of baptism - and are made whole - as they now - become members of God's family.
As much as people are drawn to John - they still need to be aware that this great prophet is not the messiah but the voice of one calling out to them - leading them to the messiah – who is - the word – their lord and God - Jesus the Christ
In Puerto Rico in the city of San Juan – named after John the Baptist – there stands a huge stone sculpture of him, located between the ocean and the main highway of a very busy city. John the Baptist stands with his head bent and his eyes looking toward the road but his arm is raised high with his index finger – pointing to heaven. This is to portray the prophet as - an earthly man of - both the desert and the Jordan - while revealing to us that - he is also - a heavenly directed prophet.
So like John the Baptist we need to know that as earthly people - that throughout the business of our everyday lives - we need to make time - to look towards heaven - as we are also - a people of God
If Jesus is giving us time to prepare our hearts before he comes, then this also needs to be a time of mission - a time for us to proclaim the word and to do good for others. We cannot grow weary but we need to become service orientated on our pilgrimage; we need to persevere - in helping others by encouraging and supporting them and by leading them – into a Christian way of life.
Remember the word of the prophet Isaiah as he declares:
Behold I am sending my messenger before you. He will prepare your way. A voice - of one crying in the desert Prepare - the way of the lord - Make straight his paths
Remember that the Season of Advent is the time Jesus gives to us - to prepare for his second coming. Make good use of it. Prepare your way. Make straight your paths. Only then will you receive comfort and be put at ease of all grief. Only then will you be - set free from all worry.
Jesus said – I am the way and the truth and the life whoever follows me – will have eternal life. You and I need to follow him – right now because we might not be given - another Advent – to do it -