We remember Israel’s hope for the coming of God’s Messiah to save, to forgive, and to restore. We also need a Savior and we hope for the second coming of Jesus. Advent is our time to prepare our hearts and our world to welcome him.
Matthew repeats the passage from Isaiah 40:3 to identify John the Baptist as the prophesied predecessor of the Messiah. John was the voice crying in the wilderness with the urgent message to repent – to change the direction of one’s heart – and prepare for the Messiah whose time is at hand. Any great work of God begins with great preparation.
Let’s take the time of Advent to examine the crooked paths in our hearts and seek ways to straighten them. Let’s also tune our ears to the voices crying in the wilderness. Some of those voices in our contemporary world belong to courageous and hopeful people who are witnesses for peace in places overwhelmed with violence.
The violence wreaking the country today at large with the spate of Extra-judicial killings is lamentable. Alongside these are the equally pressing concern of violence against women and children which continue to plague our society.
Let us think of the many times in the Gospel when people reached out or called to Jesus for healing. Jesus’ response was never, ‘I have healed you,’ but rather ‘your faith has healed you.’ The solutions to violence are within each one of us. God has given us each insight and understanding, and a will to live nonviolently. We only need the space to voice it.
The time has come for our Church to be a living witness and to invest far greater human and financial resources in promoting a spirituality and practice of active nonviolence and in forming and training our Catholic communities in effective nonviolent practices.
In all of this, Jesus is our inspiration and model. The life and teachings of Jesus demonstrate that to turn one’s heart from sin is to turn towards peace. This week in Advent let’s consider ways to listen to voices for peace and make space for responding in our own lives.