Second Sunday of Advent
December 10, 2017 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God” (Is 40:1).

I should like to share with you how I started my Advent.

On Thanksgiving Day, I called a friend of mine to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving but was struck speechless by what he said: “This week, a tragedy happened to me. I lost my son and my dad.”

On Thanksgiving evening, I flew to Italy because my sister was making her profession in an association called Memores Domini, consecrated lay people who live in the midst of the world. In the plane, I was praying for my friend, for his family. I was thinking: “Why does something like this happen? Where are you, O Lord, in these circumstances? What is the meaning of so much pain?”

Together with my sister, there were twenty-eight other young people making their professions. They said “yes” to God’s call. They gave their lives permanently to Christ. It was a clamorous sign of the presence of Christ. As the first reading says: “Here is your God!” (Is 40:9). What they were doing was a clear witness of Christ, His resurrection and the presence of the eternal in this world.

In what happened there, I could see a sign of hope for the pain of my friend. There was a mysterious connection. When I told him that I was flying to Italy for my sister’s profession, he said it was good news for him.

“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.”

We need signs of Jesus’ coming. We need to have Him with us. Without him, there is no meaning for our lives.

Today’s word of God talks about preparing the way of the Lord: “In the desert prepare the way of the Lord!” (Is 40:3). Today, we encounter John the Baptist, one of the great figures of Advent. He proclaims the Messiah’s coming and the need to prepare his way: “Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley” (Is 40:4).

However, we can say: “How is it possible to make low the mountain of our pride and fill in the valley of our forgiveness by God? How is it possible to conquer all the obstacles that prevent God’s coming? How is it possible to make straight a highway for our God?”

We have neither the strength nor the courage to do so. We are weak and poor. Preparing the way of the Lord seems impossible. Why does Our Lord call us to this task?

I found the answer in Saint John’s Gospel, when Saint Thomas says: “How can we know the way?” (Jn 14:5). It is the same as saying that we cannot prepare the way. Jesus answers: “I am the Way; I am Truth and Life” (Jn 14:6). Jesus not only prepares the way for us but He is the way. He has the strength and the courage to make low the mountains and fill the valleys of our lives. However, he does not do this without us. Without our collaboration, nothing happens. He needs our “yes” in the same way that He needed the “yes” of Our Lady to the Incarnate. It is our “yes” that brings the presence of God into the desert where we live. It is our “yes” to Jesus that brings hope and meaning, first of all to ourselves and then to the entire world.

“Prepare the way of the Lord.”  May this Advent be a true time of preparation for Jesus’ coming.  Amen.

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