As we settle into Advent, a time of preparation for the coming (Advent literally means "coming to"), we think of the coming of Christ at Christmas. There are two other advents that we are awaiting: the final coming of Christ and the individual coming of Christ into our own hearts. On this 2nd Sunday (as on every Sunday on the Catholic liturgical calendar) we get three readings and a re-sponsorial psalm. In the first, Is 40:1-5, 9-11 we are urged to:
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
I take this as a metaphor for our own selves and as an admonition to build a highway for God into our own hearts. The we ask:
- What are the hills, valleys and rough places that are blocking construction?
- How can we remove them?
Since all of us are capable of self deception - sometimes on a massive scale - we will need help with the first task. Prayer, meditation, a good written guide and a spiritual advisor will help us take inventory of the resentments, fears, prides, and other obstacles. Once that is done, we face the impossible task of removing them by ourselves. Are we stuck forever? We get our answer from the Gospel (for this year the gospel readings will come mainly from Mark.) One is coming, indeed has come, who will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and enable us to remove obstacles and make the rough ground level.