The Prophet Baruch was the secretary of the Prophet Jeremiah. Today, he reflects in his own prophecy the message of Jeremiah about the restoration of his people, marched by their enemies into captivity, whom God will bring back. They are now being consoled. He calls on Jerusalem, to take off her mourning robe and misery, and put on the splendor of glory from God forever. Wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, they should bear on their head, the miter that displays, the glory of the eternal name. They will be named by God forever, the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship (Baruch 5:1-9). In Jerusalem blessed by God, is to live a new age of prosperity immersed in the peace, justice and joy of God.
To bring about his purposes, God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, that his people may advance secure in his glory. He is leading his people, Israel, in joy by the light of his glory, accompanied with his mercy and justice. In this way, the road to Jerusalem is made level by God, to facilitate their return. Here, Israel advances in the glorious presence of God. For the comfortable return of God with the exiles, as he leads them personally to Jerusalem, he causes trees to grow as shades, to shield the exiles from the sun. By accompanying of his people on their journey, God displays his divine mercy and justice.
This great exodus in which God accompanies his people and brings them back to Jerusalem is the purpose for which God sends his Son, Jesus Christ to come and take flesh, to live among us. He came to bring us back to the promised land of heaven. He will bring this about, by coming to share life with us, to live among us, and to be our viaticum, leading us along the road comfortably to God. He will shield us with his life, death and resurrection. In this way, he will make us the new people of God, the new Israel protected by God. He will make us adopted sons and daughters of God. He will be the way the truth and the life, in whom we will live and once more, come back to oneness with God.
St. Luke in his gospel account gives a clear historical description of the fulfillment of the coming of Christ, through the ministry of John the Baptist. It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, that the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah in the desert. His ministry was marked with the proclamation of the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
John came to prepare the way through which God would lead his people through the new exodus back to himself. The evangelist sees John’s great ministry, in the light of the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-5, in which a voice cries out in the desert asking that the way of the Lord be prepared, and his paths be made straight. That voice calls every valley to be filled and every mountain and hill to be made low; winding roads shall be made straight, and rough ways to be made smooth, for all flesh to see the salvation of God (Luke 3:1-6). John the Baptist will identify himself, as that un-known voice that cries in the wilderness (John 1:23). It is this voice that will point Jesus out to Israel when he comes.
St. Paul and all who preach the word of God share in the work of John the Baptist, as the voice proclaiming the coming of Christ, bringing him to people and people to him. Like them, May God who has begun the good work in us, bring it to completion, up to the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11).
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, PhD