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Prepare the Way: Congregation for the Clergy on the Second Sunday of Advent

By Vatican Congregation for the Clergy
December 5th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The entire liturgy of the Second Sunday of Advent revolves around this phrase from the Prophet Isaiah.  The Lord calls each of us to a true opening of heart so that we can welcome his coming.  While the heart often finds itself on crooked roads, it is restored by two fundamental factors: the impact with reality and the encounter with a Presence. 

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - "A voice cries, 'Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord.  Make a straight highway for our God." (Isaiah 40:1)

The entire liturgy of the Second Sunday of Advent revolves around this phrase from the Prophet Isaiah.  The Lord calls each of us to a true opening of heart so that we can welcome his coming.  While the heart often finds itself on crooked roads, it is restored by two fundamental factors: the impact with reality and the encounter with a Presence.  These factors are at the root of that vigilance which must characterize the Christian, especially in the season of Advent.

The Mother of God is certainly the greatest model for Christians who, in harmony with the Fathers of the Church, has always been imitated by Christ's followers.  Mary is the most sublime and highest creature who knew how to lower her entire existence before the Lord, journeying on the way He indicated - the way of humility.  Looking at Our Lady, we are all called to clothe ourselves with humility which is the true way that "will reveal the glory of the Lord" and so enable our souls to call out with exultation and fidelity of life "Behold, the Lord is coming!"

The Church, of which Blessed Mary is the greatest image, recognising the needs of our hearts, offers everyone this time of grace so that all 'should come to repentance' and so allowing us to be open to the possibility of a full response to the coming of Christ the Lord.  Certainly, the fact that 'everyone should come to repentance' indicates the strong call to conversion that is a painful, yet fruitful, break with sin.  The response to this great gift reveals a totally new way of life that is truer, more just, more humane and, in the end, it makes us happier.

The apostle Peter invites us to renew our search for the authentic way of live which leads to fuller holiness so that we might be found "without spot or stain" before God (c.f. 2 Peter 3: 8-14).

As today's Gospel shows us, the historical coming of Jesus enjoyed a time of preparation.  This was announced by John the Baptist through a 'baptism of conversion for the forgiveness of sins' which awaited the definitive coming of the Lord who always renews us baptism 'with the Holy Spirit'.

The truest, simplest, most immediate, and most human way to "prepare the way of the Lord" is to begin to follow it.  We must prepare ourselves to journey, even if we are nervous, towards He who with all His merciful and loving Being comes to us.  Before us, we have the wonderful example of the Blessed Virgin Mary who 'made haste' to visit her cousin Elizabeth.

Hugh of St Victor said "O grandeur of love, by which we love God, we choose Him, we head towards Him, we catch Him, we possess Him!  I affirm that you are the great way, which welcomes, directs and leads us to the goal.  You are the way of humanity to God and the way of God towards humanity.  O happy way!  You have led God to humanity and you direct humanity to God!"  (Hugh of St Victor, In Praise of Divine Love, p280).

Citations of
Is 40,1-5.9-11:   www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9abtmtbh.htm
2P 3,8-14: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9ammsec.htm  
Mc 1,1-8: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9abs0xa.htm 

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