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Liturgical day: Sunday 2nd (C) of Advent

Gospel text (Lk 3,1-6): It was the fifteenth year of the rule of the Emperor Tiberius; Pontius Pilatus was governor of Judea; Herod ruled over Galilee, his brother Philip ruled over the country of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias over Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas were the High Priests at that time when the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah in the desert. John proclaimed a baptism for repentant people to obtain forgiveness of sins and he went through the whole country bordering the Jordan River. It was just as is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah: listen to this voice crying out in the desert: «Prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight. The valleys will be filled and the mountains and hills made low. Everything crooked will be made straight and the rough paths smooth; and every mortal will see the salvation of God».

« It was the fifteenth year of the rule of the Emperor Tiberius; Pontius Pilatus was governor of Judea …»

Fr. Maciej SLYZ Misionero de Fidei Donum
(Bialystok, Poland)

Today, nearly half of the Gospel passage consists of historical-biographical data. Not even in the liturgy of the Mass this historical text has been changed by the frequent 'at that time'. Such an "insignificant" foreword for the contemporary man has prevailed: «in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar – when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod Tetrarch of Galilee (...) » (Lk 3:1). Why? To demystify! God came into the history of mankind in a very "precise" way, as He also did in the history of every man. For example, in the life of John - son of Zechariah - «He called him so that he went into all the country around the Jordan preaching... » (cf. Lk 3:3).

Today, God also speaks to me with his Word. He does it personally - as with John the Baptist -, or through his emissaries. My Jordan River may be the Sunday Eucharist, it may be the Pope Francis’ tweet, which reminds us that «the content of Christian witness is not a theory, but rather of a Person: it is the risen Christ, the living and only Savior of all». God has entered into the history of my life because Christ is not a theory. He is the saving practice, the Charity, the Mercy.

But at the same time, this very God needs our poor effort: that we fill in the valleys of our distrust of his Love; that we make low the mountains and hills of our pride, that prevents us seeing Him and receiving His help; that we unbend and straighten the crooked roads that make the path to our heart become a maze..

Today it is the second Sunday of Advent, and its main objective is that I can meet God in the way of my life. Not just a Newborn infant, but over and above all the most Merciful Savior, to see the smile of God, «when all the people will see God’s salvation…» (cf. Lk 3:6). So it is! St. Gregory of Nazianzus, said it «nothing pleases God more than the conversion and salvation of man»

«Every mortal will see the salvation of God»

+ Fr. Josep VALL i Mundó
(Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the Church proposes the contemplation of Isaiah's prophetic words about John the Baptist, the Precursor of our Lord, who made himself known, on the banks of the river Jordan, by announcing the salvation of God. He had the mission to prepare new ways for the Lord, to smooth the rough paths, to make the mountains low, to turn rugged earth into fertile valleys (cf. Lk 3:4-5). Now, we Christians are also requested —without any fear of the present world— to work apostolically so that every mortal will see the salvation of God (cf. Lk 3:6) that only comes from God through Jesus Christ.

We have many valleys to fill, many paths to smooth, many mountains to move. Maybe these are difficult times; but if we rely upon God's Grace, we will not be lacking the necessary means. We shall be precursors insofar as we live near our Lord and, then, those words from the Diognet-letter: «What the soul is to the body, so are Christians within our world» will be accomplished. Naturally, we have to love the world we live in with all our heart, as a personage from a novel by Dostoyevsky, used to say: «Love Creation in its entirety and its elements, each leaf, each beam of light, the animals, the plants. And, while loving them, you will be given to understand the divine mystery of things. And once this is understood we shall end up loving the whole world with a universal love».

Saint Justin said: «All nobly human things belong to us». And from the bowels of the Earth —amidst our job, our family, and our social environment— we shall be precursors in preparing the ways of salvation that comes from God. With our example and our words, as saint Josemaría Escrivá described the Apostolic work of us, Christians, in the middle of the world, «we shall shake the complacency of those around us, we shall open wide horizons for them to face their selfish and bourgeois existence; we shall complicate their life, by making them forget about themselves while bringing them peace and joy».

«Prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight»

Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench
(Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, through John Baptist's voice, the Gospel urges us to prepare a way for the Lord Jesus. But, really are we the ones who have to open a path to God? Is it not me who needs help from God? In fact, we cannot do anything without Him, but, at the same time He wants to need us: «Make his path straight» (Lk 3:4). How is it possible? Because love cannot be imposed; but in all cases, love can be offered: «God, who created you without you, will not save you without you» (St. Agustin).

Jesus Christ is about to arrive on to the Earth, and we will meet Him as a little baby, "helpless", leaning over a crib: so little that He will not be able to scale the walls of pride of my heart, nor will He emerge above of the waves of my sensuality…

In the words of Benedict XVI, «the Christian faith offers us precisely the consolation that God is so big that He is able to become little». But, I repeat, so little that, if we also don't become little, we will not see Him even as He passes by, or, even, we could in fact even be afraid of Him (as Herod was). So, we must straighten our hearts in order to «to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ» (Phil 1:10).

«Make his path straight!». This petition is not new. Many centuries ago —in prophet Baruc's times— Yahweh-God asked that to Israel. We can observe it in the first lecture of today: «For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God» (Bar 5:7). The same way as the Lord made the captives of Sion to return back, if we reject the obstacles (hills of pride, valleys of warmth…), we will sing with tears in our eyes: «And so we celebrate because the Lord had indeed worked miracles for us» (Ps 125,3).