If the word for Advent last week was Awake, then this week it’s Prepare. John cries out in the desert: Repent; make straight in the desert a highway for the Lord!
I never understood this until I went to Israel. Before that, I always thought the desert was a flat and sandy, barren place, stretching out forever, no relief in sight. It’s not hard to make a highway through that kind of desert. But in Israel! The picture above is of the desert in Israel. The only thing I had right was the barren part. It’s rocky, full of hills and crevices, places to get lost and fall into. If a king wanted to make a triumphant entrance into a town and had to come through the desert – which is the visual we should have here, thinking of preparing a way for the coming Lord – you’d have to bring in the big trucks first.
By the end of the year, when Advent rolls around, my heart is like that desert. Sometimes barren, but mainly full of stones and valleys, hills and places to hide out in. No wonder I can’t see him coming in the distance. John is calling us to clear out the debris, level the turf, fill in the potholes. It’s time to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and then make room in the calendar for preparing our hearts. What will you do, to keep your mind off the world’s holiday bustle and on the coming Lord?
A few ideas:
• Cultivate a daily time of stillness, of inner peace and quiet. Create a space inside for Christ to come to. Use the time for spiritual reading, meditation and prayer.
• Load your ipod or CD player with Bach’s Advent Cantatas or the Messiah.
• Pray the Angelus daily and reflect upon the Incarnation.
• Set up the Advent wreath if it’s not up already. Light two candles all this week while you pray together with your family.
• Around 480 AD, Gregory of Tours wrote that Christians fasted Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during Advent. Maybe pick one day a week to pray and fast.
Come, Lord Jesus!