“He Will Prepare Your Way” Advent Reflection by Patrick Hubbard, Sojourners Intern

In this annual series, current and former volunteers reflect on the Advent Gospels and the Four Pillars of Faith-Based Service: Social Justice, Simplicity, Community and Spirituality. Presented by Catholic Apostolate Center and Catholic Volunteer Network.

Second Week of Advent

Reflection by: Patrick Hubbard, The Sojourners Internship Program

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. 

What does it mean to “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths”? The images it conjures, as well as the expectation it sets for those of us anticipating Christ’s coming, are those of restoration and justice. Isaiah follows his initial exhortation with a description of a grand even-ing of the world; the hills lowered, the valleys raised. As God approaches, everything equalizes before Him. Isaiah calls this good news, a sure sign of God’s presence. God descends to Earth, gathering His flock and removing the physical barriers between Himself and those He loves.

His presence is so powerful that all else fades away; the elements are dissolved by fire and even the heavens pass. All else diminishes, leaving only God and His flock. We see that John, the emissary tasked with preparing the way of the Lord, kept to the wilderness, letting others come to him, away from the city and the busyness of life, their homes and their cleanliness and their comforts. He cried out in the wilderness, signifying that God’s arrival carries weight independent of human society. His cry shows us that God’s arrival draws us away from where we are settled, into a place where all that matters is His Advent. In the wilderness, we see the true significance of God’s glory, revealed as dominion over and restoration of the world and its people.

Focus on Simplicity: The call to prepare the way of the Lord rings with the imagery of simplicity. God is described as flattening out the entire earth, laying low the mountains and raising up the valleys, until all that remains is His presence. John the Baptist lived in the desert, keeping to the simplicity of insects and rough garments. When God’s people yield to Him and make straight His paths, they see nothing but Him, and celebrate the wondrous simplicity of what it means to depend on the Lord. The simplest lifestyle is the removal of all superfluities, until all that is left is the presence of God our savior. Making straight His paths, in its truest form, is the distillation of life unto its most essential quality: the encounter with the divine. In all His complication, beauty, and incomprehensibility, God is really quite simple. He brings healing and redemption, and all else fades away.

Service Suggestion: If we are to truly make straight a highway for the Lord, then it is paved with our acts of service and love. Justice shall walk before Him, the scripture says—we are that justice, the foretaste of the truth that shall spring out of the earth. Those who flocked to John received healing and baptism, inclusion into the community of God. This Advent, we should seek out ways to welcome others into our communities, those who may not share our luxuries of warm homes, family reunions, or lavish feasts. We can open our homes to acquaintances, non-family members, or strangers, and listen to the needs and sorrows of our neighbors who may not see any reason to celebrate. We should make sure that no one spends the season in isolation, in such small ways we are able, by offering things from encouragement, to food, to a place to sleep, to a listening ear

Prayer: God, help us to rest in your presence, and celebrate rather than supplement your simplicity. Instill in us the desire to prepare your way—to love, to heal, to be healed, and to celebrate the reduction of life until all that remains is you. As we await your coming this Advent season, let us go out to you in the wilderness to see your glory together. Transform us into followers who mimic you in your redemption of the world you so lovingly brought into being, and even now sustain. And may all this be for your glory, so that all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Amen.

– Patrick Hubbard

Looking for more reflections like this one? We invite you to download our Advent Reflection Guide in its entirety, available by clicking here. You can find an extensive library of Advent resources by visiting the Catholic Apostolate Center website – click here.
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