2nd Sunday of Advent—Year C

In the first year of the presidency of Barack Obama,
when Jim Doyle was governor of Wisconsin,
and Kohl and Feingold were its senators,
and Obey was the seventh district congressman,
and Favre was the quarterback in Minnesota,
when Benedict was pontiff and Jerome was bishop,
the word of God came here,
to Christ the King parish in Spencer:

“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

It isn’t a new word… It was the message of John the Baptist, and Isaiah wrote it long before that. Yet the word of God is not old in the sense that it has passed some kind of expiration date. When the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of these words, their human author who put the pen to parchment did not know the great audience and the impact they were to have. But the Holy Spirit saw us here and had these words written to us and for as well. These words were not meant only for Old Testament peoples, or for the time when Christ walked on the earth. These words are proclaimed to us, and meant for us, here today. Remember this every time you encounter the Scriptures, here at church or in your private prayer.

So what is God’s word saying to us today? In the Gospel, did you notice that of all the rulers and governors and leaders at that time, the word of God did not come to any one of them? “The word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.” The lesson is that God prefers to lead souls to salvation by working through common people. People who think that they have no power.

What politicians do is important, since good laws can help people and bad laws can hurt them, but what saves souls rarely comes through them. And though our Holy Father and our bishop strive to do important work for Christ, there is only so much they can do. The way of the Lord is prepared by the daily efforts of ordinary Christians, who sometimes have children and sometimes work jobs. Your family, friends, and co-workers probably don’t read papal encyclicals, but they always witness your words and example. And so, Jesus depends upon you to prepare His way for others, to make winding and rough roads straight and smooth, and so that all people see the salvation of God.

This is the Christian’s calling and important mission, yet we cannot share what we do not have. If were are going to prepare the way of the Lord and make straight his paths for others we must first fill the valleys and level the mountains for Christ within ourselves. To this end, I urge you to make the most of two gifts God gives us: the sacrament of confession and daily prayer. There is simply nothing that more quickly and effectively strengthens the average Catholic’s moral and spiritual life than frequent and regular confession. And daily prayer is indispensible for growing in relationship with Christ and for living a wonderful life.

Each year, many of our homes are visited a familiar and beloved character whom we associate with Christmas… I speak George Bailey from the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This film, despite its flawed angelology, teaches the truth about how much difference one person can make for others. George Bailey’s an ordinary man who lives an extraordinary life without even realizing himself. By the end of the film, we see the impact for good that his life has had and we see George surrounded by his family and his many friends who all love and admire him.

Why does George Bailey live such a wonderful life?  Sure, he’s a nice guy, but he’s more than a nice guy. Time and again, he sacrifices what he wants to do what’s loving and best for the people God has placed in his life. I hope we can all see a little bit of George Bailey in ourselves. Because we can see a great deal of Christ in George Bailey.

This Advent season, let us prepare the way of the Lord within us, so that through us, all people may see the salvation of God.  This is the calling, the mission, and the privilege of the Christian.  In this or any age, it’s a wonderful life.


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