“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”
This Sunday as we listen to the beginning of the Gospel of Mark proclaimed, we hear the echo of the prophet Isaiah telling us to get our stuff together. Well, maybe not exactly in those terms, but there is truth there perhaps. What exactly does it mean to “make straight his paths” then?
John, portrayed as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, is the one who is out in the desert crying “Prepare!” He is the messenger leading the way, helping to show us how to take the appropriate actions for the coming of the Lord. John also definitely makes a pointed effort to explain that one who is mightier than he, will be coming after him, and that John is a simple and lowly servant before Him.
So how exactly can we prepare and make our paths straight again? If you follow the example of the multitudes in the gospel passage flocking to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist, we might gain a better understanding of how to do that. John was baptizing people with water as they acknowledged their sins and he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…hmm. So people were actually talking about their sins and looking to be forgiven and seek repentance? Where else does this happen?
Maybe you’ve seen it in your church bulletin, or heard in the announcements at the end/beginning of Mass about Advent Penance Services happening at your church or in the local area? ’Tis the season. It seems like there is definitely a connection between the timing of these parish events and where Mark’s gospel is leading us this weekend. It’s hard to imagine a more effective way to get your path back on the straight and narrow than a great confession experience. Enjoy the grace of your baptism again as you are forgiven in the name of the Father, the Son, AND the Holy Spirit.
Whether it’s been two days, two months, or two years since your last reconciliation, be encouraged to seek out the saving mercy and grace of Jesus in that precious sacrament. “Prepare the way!”