THEME: LET US REPAIR OUR DEPLORABLE SPIRITUAL ROADS.
1st Reading: Baruch 5:1-9; 2nd Reading: 1 Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11; Gospel: Luke 3:1-6.
In our contemporary society, many rich people especially our leaders do not like to travel by land (road transportation), even within their own locality due to insecurity or the deplorable state of most of the roads. They rather travel by air (flight transportation), because it makes them feel secure, peaceable and comfortable. Also, they prefer it because it helps to fasten their journey.
Regrettably, some of our roads are very horrible. Those that travel on them regularly encounter a lot of discomforts accruing from incessant delays at the military checkpoints, numerous potholes, banditry, kidnapping, etc., Some of these roads seem to be abandoned, and each year they would continue to dilapidate. Most times, the contract may have been awarded to a contractor, but it is either the contractor used inferior materials (asphalts, bitumen, etc.) for the project so as to have more gains, or that he squandered the money for the project and absconded; or the contract was totally ignored (not awarded) by our leaders, perhaps because they usually travel with flights and seldom ply the roads.
However, if any important dignitary (president, minister, governor, etc.) would come for an official visit in that locality, the contractor or ministry of works would wake up from their slumber and fix the roads overnight, so as to impress their august visitor, and possibly to gain cheap popularity. What an astute and proactive measures! So, if this kind of earthly preparation or impression is obtainable, then why is it that we are not enthusiastic in fixing our dilapidated spiritual roads for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ?
In the FIRST READING, Baruch, a friend and secretary of prophet Jeremiah, made a prophecy of the glorious future and merciful intervention of God in favour of humanity. He gave hope and encouragements to the exiled Jews who were under Babylonian captivity. He told them that their days of sorrows and afflictions are over, and that the peace and glory of God shall be made manifest in their lives once they accept His righteousness (justice & fidelity). For this reason, they should repair all deplorable roads, fill up the valleys and level every mountainous path on their way, so that they may, with joy, embrace God’s light, mercy and righteousness and then work safely in His glory.
The GOSPEL presents St. John the Baptist (Precursor of Christ) as the fulfillment of what Prophet Isaiah foretold concerning the expected Messiah: “A voice cries out, prepare the way for the LORD, make a straight highway in the desert for our God. Every valley shall be filled up, and every mountain and hill shall become level. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken (Isaiah 40:3-5).”
Undoubtedly, what John strongly emphasized here, is the need for us to rebuild our deplorable roads, and make the crooked paths straight and level, in preparation for the coming of our Supreme King – Jesus Christ. However, these are not really physical roads, but spiritual roads – that is, the potholes and crookedness in the lives of people. They are people’s sins of pride, greed, hatred, selfishness, victimization, corruption, wickedness, injustice, etc., which should be filled with bitumen or asphalts of humility, love, generosity, righteousness, honesty, forgiveness, justice, equity, fairness, etc.
In the SECOND READING, St. Paul was deeply touched by the good works and the supports rendered to him by the Philippians in the spread of the gospel. Hence, he prayed that they may continue to abound more in love, with knowledge and all discernment, so that they may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ. Also, they may attain Christian perfection, which should be the desire of every true Christian. This perfection means a continual growth in love of God and of neighbor and deeper knowledge of God in order to grow in union with Him.
Moreover, the prerequisite for us to experience the fullness of God’s glory in our lives is when we return to Him through repentance and forgiveness. Therefore, we are called to purify ourselves via genuine repentance (Isaiah 1:18-20) in order for us to see the salvation of God, which comes with peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. This will make the way smooth and easy for Jesus Christ to come and be born anew into our lives, so that, people will begin to see Him in our character and utterances. Meanwhile, this repentance is not really a change of one’s religion; from Christianity to Islam or vice versa, but a complete change of heart to love others sincerely, which is a proof of our love for God.
Finally, since Christ will definitely come one day, though no one knows the hour, each person must appear before Him to be judged at the moment of death, and that moment will decide for us how His second coming will affect us. So, to make sure of a happy death, that is, of a successful judgment, there is but one guarantee and it is to lead a successful, a true, Christian life that is void of crooked paths, potholes and mountains.
May the Almighty God, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, grant you forgiveness of all your sins and grant you the grace to make way for the coming of the Lord and repair all your deplorable spiritual roads that hinder your access to His divine love; also for you to love your fellow human beings sincerely, so that at the end, you shall reign with Christ in His Kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!!!
Peace of Christ be with you…
Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.