Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
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.”
Good News Reflection: Preparing for joy
While we’re shopping for gifts, decorating, and sending Christmas cards, what are we doing to make Christmas a new rebirth of Christ for our daily lives?
All the readings at Mass during Advent remind us that this season is a time intended for spiritual preparation. It’s tempting to let the busyness of December distract us from the most important purpose of Advent: our personal spiritual growth.
In our responsorial Psalm today, we proclaim: “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy!” Do you actually feel joyful when you mouth these words? It takes faith to experience joy in the midst of hardships. Faith grows from knowing that the Lord does great things for us because of his mercy — not because we have earned it, as we’ll never be good enough. Repenting from our sins opens us to become aware of this mercy.
Therefore, Saint John the Baptizer is proclaiming to us today: “Prepare the way of the Lord!”
Now is the time to ask: What preparations do I need to make? What am I doing to straighten out the messes in my life, the areas of sin that continually distract me from a close relationship with Christ? What penances will help “make straight” my path?
What depressing or discouraging valley of hardship needs to get filled with the joy of the Lord? If it seems hopeless, what will I do to let Jesus take charge of it? What mountain of debt or difficult obstacle needs to be made low by having faith in the Lord’s digging tools?
What’s twisted and warped in my thinking, like a road that winds through a jungle of confusion? I pray, Holy Spirit, that you will lead me straight to holiness! What’s rough about me? What’s edgy and sharp and rubs others the wrong way? Lord Jesus, smooth me like a diamond polisher.
Throughout Advent, let us examine the ways in which we still need to see the salvation of God. Let us make a plan of action to be holier and happier at the end of the Jubilee Year than we are today!
Questions for Personal Reflection:
Which of the above questions stand out most for you? What will you do with this to prepare the way of the Lord so that your holiness grows?
Questions for Faith Sharing:
Name a tradition you grew up with that prepared you for Christmas. How did this affect your spiritual growth? What’s your favorite way of preparing for the holy celebration of Christmas? Why?
Lord: open my eyes to discover Your works through the people around me. Give me strength, too, to continue proclaiming Your Word, even when I’m not understood by those people who share my everyday life. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica