“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of The Lord; make His paths straight’.” Matthew 3:3
John the Baptizer was the designated one who would prepare the way for Messiah to come, not into the world (the angels made that announcement), but to come into our lives. Preparation, then, became necessary – and still is necessary. How do we go about making such preparations? What is it we can do that will make a “path” appropriate for the King of kings to trod?
In His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus teaches many lessons not least of which is the power and necessity of forgiveness. He not only requires that before we can offer our gifts to The Lord, we must first go and make peace with “those who have something against you” (5:23-24); Jesus also requires that “if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (6:15).
I wonder why these simple yet profound commandments of Christ do not get more traction in the Church (believe me, I struggle as well!). We seem entirely too wrapped up in finding someone whom we can hold responsible for the anger that seems so prevalent in our culture today, and then justifying our anger as a legitimate excuse for not offering forgiveness. We can even find a lot to be angry about that does not affect us directly.
Actor Stephen Collins has finally come clean regarding allegations made earlier that he had had inappropriate contact with underage girls some 20-30 years ago. He is paying a terrible price for his sins (his professional acting career may be completely over) as he should, but many who have no real stake in his past indiscretions are chiming in with raw hatred as if they had been directly impacted by his acts.
Instead of finding reasons to be angry (very easily done), maybe we should be actively engaged in charitable acts, acts of justice and mercy that can actually transform lives (not so easily done). The people of the Covenant have been given a great gift in the birth of Messiah. Yet even though Jesus taught about the Kingdom of Heaven, He did not establish the Kingdom on earth. He has taught us that He will return again for that final Act. It is that time for which we must prepare.
The people of the Covenant have been given that charge to “prepare the way of The Lord”. It is past time for us to get to it. Let go of the past, stop trying to find people to blame for your misery, and look forward to the fulfillment of the Ultimate Promise: that of the fullness of Life in Christ when the Kingdom is finally and completely upon us.
There is much to do to “prepare the way”. Let the Church go about it as we celebrate that most Wondrous Gift of all – the empowerment to do this Great Thing!