PREPARE THE ROAD

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I have just come back to my mission of Sierra Leone after four months at home, in Italy, including a serious prostate operation at the end of September. I am making mention of this because there I left stores and streets and restaurants overflowing with lights, decorations, and promises of a very Merry Christmas, if only one buys a lot of items, expensive gifts, and fine foods … to no end.

Within this “worldly” context, the call of John the Baptist for repentance in the Gospel of this second Sunday of Advent is then hard to fall on ready-to-listen ears. We are too busy with so many lovely things that to remember our sins now and to start walking on the path of repentance does not make much sense.

Yet, we may recognize that the music of this worldly Christmas does not help us to listen to the God who wants to speak to our hearts. But listen we must, if we call ourselves “good” Christians. For how can we not listen attentively to the Baptist, whom we believe speaks God’s word as a true prophet? He is still the voice in the wilderness for each one of us to prepare the Christ coming among us  at the core of human history.

Advent then is a sacred time of prayerful listening. Through the Baptist we can listen to God’s word entering into this world in a most audible and practical way. How could God take the supreme initiative to speak to us at the river Jordan if we were not able, or willing, to listen to Him? Listeners we must be, above any other voice that is not God’s.

My personal experience after 50 years in Sierra Leone is that our poor are better listeners to God’s word than those deafened by the music of Jingle Bells or by the street lights or by the Christmas foods. Yes, the poor have more time and humility and readiness to listen to God and to desire a baptism of repentance, of new life. Why not we? Why not I?

No doubt, all of us, no matter how many things we possess, remain always poor, very poor, if we do not treasure the divine love always speaking to our hearts.  

We thank today John the Baptist for preparing the coming of Jesus to us as Master and Saviour of the world. We pray him, the greatest of prophets, to help us renew our priorities of life (and of Christmas!) by humbly listening to the word of God and changing our life od sins into a life of grace, the true grace of December 25th!

I have just come back to my mission of Sierra Leone after four months at home, in Italy, including a serious prostate operation at the end of September. I am making mention of this because there I left stores and streets and restaurants overflowing with lights, decorations, and promises of a very Merry Christmas, if only one buys a lot of items, expensive gifts, and fine foods … to no end.

Within this “worldly” context, the call of John the Baptist for repentance in the Gospel of this second Sunday of Advent is then hard to fall on ready-to-listen ears. We are too busy with so many lovely things that to remember our sins now and to start walking on the path of repentance does not make much sense.

Yet, we may recognize that the music of this worldly Christmas does not help us to listen to the God who wants to speak to our hearts. But listen we must, if we call ourselves “good” Christians. For how can we not listen attentively to the Baptist, whom we believe speaks God’s word as a true prophet? He is still the voice in the wilderness for each one of us to prepare the Christ coming among us  at the core of human history.

Advent then is a sacred time of prayerful listening. Through the Baptist we can listen to God’s word entering into this world in a most audible and practical way. How could God take the supreme initiative to speak to us at the river Jordan if we were not able, or willing, to listen to Him? Listeners we must be, above any other voice that is not God’s.

My personal experience after 50 years in Sierra Leone is that our poor are better listeners to God’s word than those deafened by the music of Jingle Bells or by the street lights or by the Christmas foods. Yes, the poor have more time and humility and readiness to listen to God and to desire a baptism of repentance, of new life. Why not we? Why not I?

No doubt, all of us, no matter how many things we possess, remain always poor, very poor, if we do not treasure the divine love always speaking to our hearts.  

We thank today John the Baptist for preparing the coming of Jesus to us as Master and Saviour of the world. We pray him, the greatest of prophets, to help us renew our priorities of life (and of Christmas!) by humbly listening to the word of God and changing our life od sins into a life of grace, the true grace of December 25th!