“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

John the Baptist is introduced to us by Luke (3:1-6) after the evangelist situates us in time and place by naming important figures.  John is described as a man urging a baptism of repentance so that the people’s sins can be forgiven.  Then Isaiah (40:3-5) is quoted, in which a future prophet (fulfilled in John) is to prepare the way for the messiah.  We are all called to be John the Baptist in our own way.  His sole function, and he knew it (“He must increase; I must decrease.” — Jn 3:30), was to make the world ready for the coming of the promised Christ.  As we prayerfully anticipate the celebration of a birth that happened over two thousand years ago we are also invited to remember that Jesus will come again in glory on the last day.  In fact we hope to accelerate this coming (“thy kingdom come” in the Our Father — Mt 6:10).  We do this by changing the world.  It starts with changing ourselves.  The message we hear from both John the Baptist and Jesus upon being introduced to their public ministries is the same: “Repent!” (Mk 1:4, 15).  By conforming ourselves to God (“So be perfect,just as your heavenly Father is perfect” — Mt 5:48) we give the world a most powerful witness.  When our every thought, word, and deed shows our allegiance to the One we love, regardless of our circumstances, we can move mountains (Mt 17:20).

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