The liturgy celebrates the unfathomable mercy of God towards his people. God wants to revisit and liberate his people, who had been through so many upheavals. They had been punished for their sins. That is why, today, we reflect on the book of consolation, in which through Isaiah, God plans a new exodus for his people, and says: “comfort, give comfort to my people…speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; indeed, she has received from the hand of the Lord double for all her sins (Isaiah 40:1-2).”
In the history of the people of God, as a result of their so many infidelities, God allowed the Babylonians to defeat the Southern Kingdom of Judah in the years 597 BC, 587 BC, and 582 BC. They destroyed Jerusalem and deported the influential people of Judah to Babylon. The temple of Jerusalem was burnt down, ending the liturgical worship and the Davidic monarchy. Languishing in Babylon, the people of God started questioning the faithfulness and omnipotence of their God who allowed his people to suffer defeat at the hands of a pagan nation. After a while, God through the prophet of Deutero-Isaiah school, addressed the problems, and gave the message of consolation to his afflicted people, promising them a new exodus. In this new exodus, the desert through which they would journey home, will be transformed. The people will be led and guided by the Lord, himself, who will fill the Promised Land with his abundant blessings (see Isaiah 40:3-11).
The new exodus envisaged by the prophet of the Second-Isaiah will be permeated with joy because of the greatness of the Lord who guides his people. Their return will be mysterious, because God will transform the desert road and make it wide, flat and comfortable. Their leader will be a new Moses, as during the great Exodus from Egypt, but the Lord himself will be the leader, who will lead as a shepherd leads his flock.
The experience of the people of God is also ours, as we are the new people of God. This is what we celebrate in this Advent season. We are expecting and hoping for the coming of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, who will come into our lives, to lead us in a new exodus, to the promised land of heaven, our true home. He has already come in the mystery of the incarnation and we look forward to his coming again in glory. In Advent, we prepare ourselves to celebrate the Christmas, so that he can be born into our souls, so as to relive his life with ours, and so, have a joyful Christmas
The holy Church invites us to prepare well for the coming of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the Son of God. As the messenger sent before us, we must make ready his way and clear a straight path for him. We are to work with ourselves to prepare the way of the Lord, just as John the Baptist paved his way for his ministry. He not only baptized him, during which he is declared to be the beloved Son of God, he continued to bear Witness to him, as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He bore witness to Jesus as the one who is mightier than him, who must increase, while himself, John must decrease.
To prepare the way of the Lord, we must do so in the spirit of John the Baptist, in the spirit of humility and simplicity, in the spirit of asceticism and self-mortification, getting detached from everything that takes the place of God in our lives, so as to create space for God, to come and dwell in our souls. John was clothed in camel’s hair, and wore a leather belt around his waist. His food was grasshoppers and wild honey. Like John the Baptist, we too, are called to pay less attention to ourselves and to spend more of our time and resources in adorning the things of God and promoting his own glory.
St. Peter in our second reading, today exhorts us, in view of the dark and dangerous days facing us, that since the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and since everything is to be dissolved in this way, we should be conducting ourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, we should be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace (2 Peter 3:8-14)