‘Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ‘Advent is a time of pilgrimage, a call to embark on a rigorous journey of reclaiming ourselves and our relationship to God but it often comes without our bidding. And, like John’s call, it often comes to us from the wilderness. Wilderness describes a place and time where our usual ways of being and our ordinary coping mechanisms are stripped away. These times can leave us feeling vulnerable and thin-skinned, easily tipping over into sorrow, anxiety and despair and sometimes even feeling truly destabilised. But our wilderness times are also opportunities for us to venture into a deeper way of being in relationship with ourselves and with God. They help us recognise our usual urges for activity, productivity, entertainment, consumerism and escapism. This doesn’t mean that we judge these tendencies or belittle ourselves for them. Just notice the unsettledness within us. Then choose to follow the call of this time to remain, to abide and to deepen our rootedness in our life in God, rather than being scattered by all the activity and stuff that pulls us away from simple attending and being present. We can then taste the profoundly sacred richness and beauty of the present moment that is always filled with the quiet, undemanding, never absent presence of God, the ‘I Am.’ How easily hidden is this dimension of life. I can move past a particular scene but with all the clutter in my life and the noise in my head, it looks flat and or just ordinary. We try so hard to find the very contentment that is patiently waiting for us to finally, eventually slow down, stop, wait, gaze and simply be. Even our moments of profound sorrow can lead us to renewed vision and life. We are being invited to embrace this opportunity of a vulnerable, wilderness encounter.’
‘Travel the most ancient way of all: the path that leads you to the centre of your life. This journey is not about miles. It is not about how far you can walk or how fast. It is about what you will do with this moment. The treasure in our map is buried not at journey’s end but at its beginning.’
Gospel: Luke 3:1-6
In the fifteenth year of Tiberias Caesar’s reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the lands of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill will be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened and rough roads made smooth.
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.