December 9, 2018
A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
Once we have made the path straight Isaiah’s dream will be fulfilled, “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on my entire holy mountain,” He will bring salvation to all of us. He is coming and we need to make his path straight.
I was watching the funeral of George W Bush, 41st President of the U.S. The way the coffin was carried along the stairs of the White house was so amazing to watch. The gentlemen from the armed forces carried that coffin so perfectly on those stairs that the coffin never tilted it remained straight in spite of the stairs. The way the national honor was given the president and casket being brought to the white house was so ceremonial and perfectly organized. I am sure a lot of preparation and practice went through to make it look so straight and perfect.
Whereas, John the Baptist is calling us to make the path straight, repent and prepare the way. He is not calling us to prepare the way like we do for an Olympic game or for an airplane to land on a runway. In John 17:16, Jesus speaks of his disciples, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” This explains to us what kind of straightening is needed to receive Christ. He calls us to prepare our hearts by repentance, saying no to worldly ways and to sinfulness and finding good instead.
I like the story of the 4th king who started his Journey to meet Christ. He also carried some precious stuff like the rest of the kings but lost all of it on his way by feeding the poor, taking care of the sick and by spending whatever he had for his journey to meet Christ and give a gift to him. More likely than the other three who made it to see Christ and present a gift of gold, frankincense and silver, he became a greater gift by his sacrifice and service. That is what the king of preparation wants us to undertake by repenting for our sins and doing the works of charity.
I admire a simple priest who walks bare foot and works for the cause of the untouchables in Northern India. He has donated blood some 175 times. There are many more who sacrifice their life for the sake of the poor and needy too. When I was ordained, I had decided not to have any gifts and comforts and lead a simple life. On my ordination day my grandmother wanted to give me an ordination gift. She was told by others that there will be no gift taking or gift opening ceremony after my ordination. But nothing could stop her, so she went to the goldsmith and got a nice gold chain made from the gold smith. As soon as the ordination ceremony was over she came and put that chain around my neck. The same evening, as soon as I reached home I gave it to my mom and then, during my sister’s wedding, she asked me to give it to my sister as gift. Since then, I have received lots and lots of gifts, all have been given away and I kept only that which is needed for my survival.
When I expressed my desire to work and contribute to the diocese, my Bishop told me that he would build houses for the poor from whatever savings I could do. I worked 3 full years in Canada, not going for holidays but rather took assignments during my holidays as well. Some poor families are able to have homes from what I saved. I tell the way God blessed those years I just can’t believe the way people who were strangers helped me and I needed nothing. I lacked nothing.
I am sure there are so many who put others needs before their own and they lack nothing in life. It is in giving that we receive. When we lead a life of sacrifice then his path becomes straight and he will be able to reach us sooner and take birth in us.