I am sitting down to write this on Tuesday morning of the past week. It is exactly three weeks until Christmas Day; are you ready? By the time you actually read this it will be just over two weeks until Christmas Day; are you ready? The secular world is working itself into its yearly frenzy of pre-Christmas hysteria while the Church in this holy season of Advent is inviting us to keep our focus on that which is most important: that the Lord Jesus will come again in glory with salvation for his people. Are you ready?
This Sunday’s first reading from the Prophet Baruch gives us a wonderful vision of the full establishment of the Kingdom of God. Yes, the language is vivid and the imagery is mystical and, if we are not careful, we may find ourselves saying “isn’t that nice” with either a tongue-in-cheek cynicism or ultimately dismissing the vision as romanticized and something that is out of reach. Baruch was preaching to a people in exile, a people who were not where they wanted to be, a people who were not where God ultimately wanted them to be. Baruch wanted to remind the people of Israel that God was not done with them. Is it not the same for us? Honestly, are we really where we think we should be, where God wants us to be as a people, as a society? In the midst of our struggles, God wants us to know that greater things are still coming and that he is not done with us.
Being that this is the Second Sunday of Advent, enter John the Baptist. He always makes his appearance on this Sunday each year, whether we are hearing from Matthew, Mark, or Luke. This Sunday’s Gospel account from Luke does not give us the fire of John’s message, at least not yet this Advent season, but rather Luke presents John as the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Prophet Isaiah. The message is one that we know: fill in the valleys, bring the mountains low, make the rough plane smooth, and prepare a highway for the Lord. We know it. Do we own it? The work that needs to be done within, the conversion that Isaiah and John proclaim, is not easy but God will do his part if we let him. Are you ready and willing?
As we hear from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, Paul wants to remind us that God is at work in us and that his own divine life is still being made manifest in each of us. This is how the vision of Baruch and the other prophets will be fulfilled. The Kingdom of God will only be made fully manifest once it has fully arrived in each and every heart. The valleys, hills, and planes of Isaiah are wonderful reminders of the work that needs to be done in my life and in yours. May this Advent season shake us out of our complacency and renew our trust in the fact that, yes, the grace of God is seeking to work in each of us and that same grace can do great things, even the impossible, if we fully surrender ourselves to God’s power to save. If we are waiting to see the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God, each of us must make sure that we are first allowing God to establish it in our own lives.