Theme: Prepare the Way for the Lord
By: Fr. Chibuike Uwakwe.
Homily for Sunday December 5 2021
In the fifth year of the Babylonian exile around 583 BC, God raised the prophet Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary to speak to the Israelites about their sins. Hearing the words of the prophet Baruch, they went into the depths of their hearts, wept, fasted and prayed for forgiveness. They contributed some money and sent to the priest Jehoiakim and other priests in Jerusalem for holocaust and sin offering (cf. Baruch 1:1-7). As a result of their repentance and being true to His steadfast love especially on all repentant sinners, God forgave their sins, consoled them and blessed their land. This forgiveness, consolation and blessing of Jerusalem is what we see in the first reading (Baruch 5:1-9). In it, God promised to show the splendour of Jerusalem to every nation under heaven and He gave her the name “Peace through integrity and honour through steadfastness”. God also promised to flatten every high mountain, fill the valleys and make the ground level for the Israelites to walk back home in safety under the glory of God.
In our own situation, before now, we were like the Israelites in our spiritual journey. As a result of our unfaithfulness to God, beginning with our first parents, we fell into the captivity of sin and death. Throughout history, several sacrifices have been made for the atonement of our sins but none could bring about a prefect cleansing for us. We have even been unable to turn away completely from our sinfulness. We need a leader to lead us away from the captivity of sin. We also need a perfect victim for a perfect sacrifice of atonement and for this perfect sacrifice to take place, there must be an authentic and perfect preparation.
In the gospel reading (Luke 3:1-6), John the Baptist appears as a fore-runner for this perfect victim, calling on all to a baptism of repentance and urging them to prepare the way for the Lord and make His paths straight. This is to enable all mankind see the salvation of God which is going to be wrought through Jesus Christ, who is both our leader and the perfect victim needed. Jesus is coming to deliver us from captivity. This time, not from physical captivity but from spiritual captivity; the captivity of sin and death and Jesus wants to visit us there in our lands of captivity and rescue us. The primary place where the devil is holding us captive is in our hearts. This heart is the “way” we have been asked to prepare for the Lord. As the psalmist says, when you listen to His voice do not harden your hearts. Our captivity begins in the heart and manifests itself in all we do. The evil things we do make our hearts more crooked so that grace finds it difficult to penetrate, thus making repentance difficult.
Within this period of advent, the voice of God which came through John the Baptist in the past still resounds in the teachings of the Church calling us to prepare the way for the Lord who is coming into our hearts both as the new born king and as the judge of the living and the dead. To prepare the way for the Lord in our hearts, three things are expected of us as we can learn from John the Baptist. The first is that we need to go into the wilderness of our hearts where we will be alone with God and enjoy His presence. This could be done through private meditation, contemplative prayer, bible reading and participation in Church fellowships. In doing this, we must move away from the distractions of the busy world. Secondly, when we are settled in the wilderness like John, God will reveal His Word to us as He revealed it to John. This Word will illumine our minds and make us see to what extent we are held bound by the devil. We should be able to dialogue with this Word and then allow it to inform, reform and transform us into what God wants us to be.
Finally, when we are illumined, informed, reformed and transformed by the Word of God, we should then be ready to proclaim the Good News of Jesus among people not only by calling them to repentance but by an authentic witnessing to the Gospel values. By then, we have turned a new leaf and taken true love to be the motive of all our actions. This love according to St Paul in the second reading (Phil 1:4-6,8:11) will improve our knowledge, deepen our perception and will help us to become pure, blameless and prepared when the Lord will come again. God loves you. Happy Sunday.
Fr. Chibuike Uwakwe.