Our house is about 50 years old. The sidewalk to the front door is made of flagstone that over the years has broken down. Because this is the main walkway to our front door it gets a lot of use. Each year I find myself needing to replace one or two of the two foot by three foot stones to ensure a safe path to the entrance of our home. This week's Gospel speaks of a different kind of path.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths." John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: "One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." Mark 1:1-8
This narrative at the beginning of Mark's Gospel tells of the preparation of a path for Jesus' coming. Let me give you a breakdown on what I think it means to you and me.
- John the Baptist was responsible for laying down the path to repentance that made a way for Jesus and His Spirit to enter the hearts of the Israelites.
- We are called to prepare our hearts at this time of year so that when Jesus arrives at Christmas we can receive Him and His Spirit.
- We need to hear John the Baptist's call to repentance and we need to live our lives accordingly so that others are also led to Jesus.
Oh, and as for our sidewalk... when I repair it next spring I will be reminded that this "way"into our home is a tangible example of how we are called to live. Others should recognize the welcoming path we have laid that point to life with Jesus.