John the Baptist is calling us to put Jesus at the top of our Christmas list. “Get ready,” he says. “God is coming.”
Do we want to experience God’s coming? If we do, we are told to remove those obstacles that are keeping us from God. Or even better, we could ask God to remove those obstacles. If we are open, God is able to do great work within us.
Somehow, the valleys that are deep and dark are being made level. Mountains that are high and difficult to climb are brought low. The burning heat of the day is shaded by a fragrant tree. The winding road is made straight.
If we are open, Jesus will lead us to a place where the obstacles that were before us are somehow being changed, somehow being transformed.
Advent is an opportunity to encounter Jesus every day.
Our whole lives are an encounter with Jesus actually:
In prayer, when we go to Mass, when we receive communion, when we do good works, when we visit the sick, when we help the poor, when we think of others, when we are not selfish, when we are loving.
If we are open, we meet Jesus in all these things. But one obstacle that would keep us from this encounter might sound something like this: “I am such a sinner that Jesus does not want to encounter me.”
Remember that the people Jesus most sought out were the people who were the greatest sinners. Remember Jesus told the church goers that prostitutes and sinners were getting to heaven before them.
Jesus said that he came for those in need of salvation. Jesus came for those in need of healing. Jesus came for those who need the valley filled in and the rough ways made smooth.
It would be sad if we got to Christmas and said to ourselves, “How did I miss the message? Why did I allow the obstacles to stand in the way? Why did I cut myself off from Jesus?”
John is calling us to put Jesus at the top of our Christmas list. It would be sad if we got to Christmas and had not made any effort to remove the obstacles that keep us from God.
As we hear the Baptist crying out in the wilderness, we continue to work on removing those obstacles that keep us from God, and so we continue to prepare the way.