This is the Second Sunday of Advent which is the season when we celebrate the Lord’s coming to us. The word Advent just means Coming. While Advent has us thinking only of the coming of this year’s Christmas, the Church uses Advent to spotlight the many different ways that the Lord comes to us. We have readings focusing on his coming as the light in the streets of the heavenly Jerusalem, we have readings reminding us he will come calling us at the hour of death.
This Sunday the Church takes a historical approach to Advent, asking us to identify with John the Baptist and his throngs at the Jordan who were waiting for Jesus to emerge, come out, from his hidden years in Nazareth.
To give the Christ a warm welcome at Christmas we must heed John’s plea for us to prepare the way for his coming. For receiving Christ in our hearts we must make the crooked ways straight, the rough ways smooth.
I saw something like that happening fifty-two years ago. In 1959 Korea’s old President Sigmund Rhee was preparing to run for president again, and he decided on making himself seen throughout all the country districts. Three month before his coming a Prepare-the-Way-for-the President dictator came to our county, assigning three work days a week to every man and woman over fifteen. I paid for substitutes for our two nuns, but all our other women were carrying clay in baskets on their heads, then smoothing the surface on hands and knees. Our men were chopping away hills that the old roads had gone around.
On the day the president’s cavalcade roared through the amount of dust that rose up in all directions looked like a giant tan caterpillar. We could hear the cars roaring through, but all we could see was the dust.
But let that go. The question now is just how you will prepare for his coming at Christmas. Will you make the crooked ways straight and the rough ways smooth?