• References: Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11, Psalm 85: 9-14, 2nd Peter 3: 8-14, Mark 1: 1-8
• Today’s readings have myriads of very possible salivating themes but the margins of time and space compel us to pitch-fork one advent key just for this Sunday’s reflection; it is the key of preparation in its varied persuasions. The motif is stuck strongly in those consoling words of Isaiah’s prophecy which formed the 1st Reading of today (taken from Deutro-Isaiah), born out of Isaiah’s disposition to be God’s mouth-piece of hope to a broken people smoldering under the heavy weight of Babylonian Exile. Isaiah offers the revitalizing and inebriating assurances of God’s imminent coming with help, victory, forgiveness and mercy (which the psalmist of today and Peter’s Epistle further expatiate). But this assurance also comes with a challenge; the challenge to prepare well in order to truly and effectively receive what God offers gratuitously. Isaiah harps on this motif of preparing the way for His coming.
• Peter reverberates it by highlighting our common claim to God’s patience and offer of second chances as opportunity for us to make amends and prepare well to receive what He promised through honest and sincere repentance.
• Mark in the Gospel, standing on the prophecy of Isaiah, places John the Baptist as that voice in the wilderness and elaborates this motif of preparing His way in John’s words, mission and apostolate, and calls us in deed to see in the Baptist’s person and vocation, a mirror or ‘type’ of our common vocation to always prepare a place for Jesus in our own lives and that of those whom providence brings along our path, playing the connector between them and Jesus, and fading out thereafter.
• A normal cursory observation of those who repair or build our roads would lend some weight to the imagery painted by Isaiah in the 1st Reading. Further elucidation of this imagery portrayed in the 1st Reading as a motif of preparation (and repentance) in lieu of His coming, would form the remaining warp and weft of the tapestry of today’s reflection.
• 5 FACES OF PREPARING THE LORD’S WAY as recommended in the 1st Reading
Making straight a highway in the desert: This involves clearing, measuring, modifying. Its appeal for us would be to regularize our life, making it transparent, honest and sincere. It means to modify what goods we are not already doing well through an honest process of introspection and self-interrogation.
Filling the Valleys: This could be done with sand or stone or gravel to make it a level ground. Its appeal for us would be to upgrade our good doings; to fill up our ‘lacks’ with good deeds; to fill up our lives with warmth, love and joy to others; to become in deed an extension of his love, justice, peace and mercy which the psalmist of today hallows!
Laying low the mountains and hills: The moral and spiritual appeal for us here is to remove our mountains of pride and ego that most times constitute the barriers to true encounter with His glory. It is to wear the garment of humility and self-abasement epitomized by John the Baptist in today’s gospel.
It is to confront ourselves without any hypocritical equivocation; to in deed obliterate what stands as obstacles to true and personal encounter with Him.
4. Making plain the Cliffs: This involves uprooting, squashing and leveling. Its appeal for us is to attack, within this grace-infested season, the bad habits and notorious addictions in our lives and remove them. This was what John achieved with His community. He heroically made even his Jewish audience learn that a secure life with God did not reside merely in the Jewish life but in the cleansed life, no wonder then his baptism of repentance was extended even to Jews; a quantum leap in deed.
5. Making valley of the ridges: This involves digging, creating gutters to prevent flood. Its homiletic appeal is to create an open heart to receive Jesus within this season; to allow a room for improvement; to create an outlet for our sinfulness and to create space for reconciliation with God and man (through the sacrament of reconciliation and other avenues of peaceful dialogue) thus achieving today’s liturgical recommendation of total peace.
• It is beautiful to note that only when the way is fully prepared can His glory shine more manifestly and resplendently for all to see. (cf. 1st R., Ent. Ant., Resp. Psalm V. 1). In deed, we need to go to the desert of our hearts for these repairs.
• Possibilities in God are always tied to responsibilities for men. There is always a conjunctive link between His mercy and our faithfulness (cf. Resp. Psalm). If we are faithful to the duties of exerting our personal commitments to prepare His way, the Lord would come and in His coming, the psalm of today shall be fully realized for surely His justice shall look down from heaven. Only then shall the Lord make us prosper and our earth yield its fruit. Only then in deed shall justice march before us and peace follow in our steps!
• Happy Sunday beloved. Remain blessed!
• Anyi no na-echere eze, mgbe O ga-abia n’ebube!


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