Awake each morning and prepare the way of the Lord

| December 8, 2013 | 0 Comments
Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist at the Jordan River is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk, N.Y.   CNS photo / Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic

Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist at the Jordan River is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk, N.Y. CNS photo / Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic

Every morning when you awake, if someone were to ask you, “What is your purpose today?” I wonder what your response would be.

I can imagine responses like, “I need to work to support my family.” Or, “I need to go to school to enhance my resumé.” Or, “I will help clean the house so our guests are able to enjoy a nice visit.”

In the Gospel passage for the Second Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist is the central figure. He was an intriguing individual. This is true not only because he ate locusts and wild honey, but because “at that time, Jerusalem, all Judea and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him.”

It would seem that a person would need a pretty good reason to go into the desert. The desert is no tropical paradise. Why were they drawn to the Baptist?

Living for Jesus

He knew his purpose, and he also knew everyone else’s — including our purpose. They were attentive to his ways because they made sense. John the Baptist made it clear that we are primarily called to give glory to God and strive for his kingdom in everything we do.

He was definitely not lacking in zeal to make this reality known. He told the people, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” In seeing the Pharisees and Sadducees arrive in the desert, he said to them: “You brood of vipers!” John the Baptist probably would not understand the Minnesota-nice concept. He desired for everyone to live for God — to live for Jesus Christ.

We should strive to enter the mindset of the Baptist as he journeyed into the desert to set Christ’s saving plan in motion. He knew he was the person referenced in Isaiah’s prophecy: “A voice crying out in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

The Baptist must have been excited to set this plan in motion because he knew the blessing the Lord desired to bestow upon his people. It should not be forgotten that the Baptist was jumping for joy in his mother’s womb at the very presence of Jesus (Luke 1:41-42). Now that Jesus was about to save his people, it is understand­able that he was quite intense in the saving work that he was helping to carry out. His intensity is a reflection of his great desire to help bring all people into God’s everlasting embrace.

Answering the call

Our calling as Catholics is the same as John the Baptist’s. When we awake each morning, we should allow John the Baptist to inspire us to love every person we encounter and lead them into deeper union with Jesus and his Church in order that they may experience the joys of the Lord’s everlasting kingdom.

Family, friends, co-workers, the stranger on the street — each and every person you encounter, you should be like John the Baptist for him or her: helping each person to lead a holy life, helping each person to understand the Church’s teachings. This approach to life will entail being straightforward at times, as in John’s encounter with the Pharisees and Sadducees, but the blessing promised is worth the struggle.

The purposes I mentioned at the start of this reflection are good and true, but if these purposes are not informed by the purpose that the Baptist revealed, they are void.

Therefore, awake each morning and prepare the way of the Lord!

Deacon Rozier is in formation for the priesthood at St. Paul Seminary for the Diocese of Duluth. His home parish is Holy Spirit in Virginia, Minn., and his teaching parish is Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Maplewood.

Sunday, Dec. 8
Second Sunday of Advent

• Isaiah 11:1-10
• Romans 15:4-9
• Matthew 3:1-12

How can you be more like John the Baptist during this Advent season?

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Category: Sunday Scriptures