The word ‘Advent’ is about a coming. For the liturgy of the First Sunday in Advent the emphasis was on the second coming of Christ – or the encounter with him at the time of our death – and the Final Judgement.
The emphasis in today’s liturgy – the Second Sunday in Advent – is about a coming that will take place during this current season. It will be a coming of new grace which will help to renew our lives. The gospel uses the words of St John the Baptist from 2000 years ago to help us prepare for this time of grace between now and the end of the month: “Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, winding ways will be straightened and rough roads made smooth. And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.”
The image of valleys being filled in and mountains being laid low indicate the amount of spiritual ‘heart’ work we need to do to fully conform our lives to the pattern of the gospel and God’s will for our lives. Which of us are not set in old ways that are in need of renewing? We need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the inner light to see all this clearly.
John the Baptist in today’s gospel also preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” For us today this equates to attending the wonderful sacrament of reconciliation during Advent. Begin today, asking the Holy Spirit to make this a fruitful experience by a diligent preparation and examination of conscience.