Friday, December 11, 2009

Second Week of Advent: Prepare the Way

In the fifteenth year of the
reign of Tiberius Caesar—
when Pontius Pilate was
governor of Judea, Herod
tetrarch of Galilee, his brother
Philip tetrarch of Iturea and
Traconitis, and Lysanias
tetrarch of Abilene— during
the high priesthood of Annas
and Caiaphas, the word of
God came to John son of
Zechariah in the desert. He
went into all the country
around the Jordan, preaching
a baptism of repentance for
the forgiveness of sins. As is
written in the book of the
words of Isaiah the prophet:
"A voice of one calling in
the desert, 'Prepare the way
for the Lord, make straight
paths for him. Every valley
shall be filled in, every
mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall
become straight, the rough
ways smooth. And all
mankind will see God's
-Luke 3:1-6 (NIV)

Only when John, the son of Zechariah, filled with the Word of God, began to preach the Word of God was he noticed, and heard by some. He preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The people in the desert heard him; Jesus heard him. The powerful, the leaders of Empire, high priests of the Temple did not heed the Word being proclaimed. One of the leaders did hear and killed the messenger.

The same Word of God calling for repentance is being proclaimed by the poor and oppressed of our world. The imprisoned, ignored and oppressed people of Gaza, of Darfur, are speaking in the desert of powerlessness and hopelessness. The leaders of empire continue to assert their power, or to ignore and support other leaders in their ignorance and arrogance.

Advent is a time when believers in the Jesus announced by John are reminded that the Word of God is calling them to proclaim the same baptism of repentance. Clergy and laity alike will indeed be noticed when Empire is criticized, nonviolence proclaimed, and military solutions to conflict challenged. The hope of repentance by our leaders will grow in response to our own repentance.

We prepare the way of the Lord and make straight his paths when we take the time and make the effort to seek the truth of conflicts rather than repeat the sound bites of media entertainers.

We fill in the valleys and level the mountains when we call our Congress people to accountability for their ideology-driven decisions and support them in their justice and peace initiatives.

The crooked roads shall become straight and rough ways smooth when we serve and speak for the powerless, the immigrant, the jobless, the homeless, the abandoned and impoverished women and children of our own country, and our world.

Then we will be heard, noticed and criticized for being too political, less patriotic, unrealistic in the ways of the world and just plain naïve.

Then all men and women including ourselves, will see God’s salvation; then we will celebrate Advent.

-John Sullivan, MM, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Oh God,
My voice is yours,
Give me the courage to use it.
Oh God,
My will is yours.
Help me to bend it to your call.
And be with me when I fail to do either.

For Meditation
What are the circumstances that cause you to silence your own voice when you have the opportunities to speak to people in power? Remember a time when you did speak, and name what gave you the will to not only to want to speak, but actually do it.

Advent Reflections are reprinted with permission from Churches for Middle East Peace.

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