On the 5th of December 2013 there was a great confusion at Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport Abuja Nigeria. The anarchical situation was occasioned by the wrongful manoeuvring of a Saudi Arabian B747 aircraft onto the runway. With the aircraft overshooting the runway, inbound and outbound (local and international) flights were cancelled leading to a complete malaise. Consequently intending air passengers were frustrated! It took a great deal of time (about 18 hours) and effort to get the aircraft out of the maintenance area of the runway where it stopped before normal flight schedules could commence.
The brief story above is meant to underscore the importance of WAY. When we talk about a way we actually mean a road, path, track or avenue that links one point to another or one idea to another. Way can also mean a disposition or style of doing something. Evidently we cannot do without WAY as a facility that links or leads us from one point to another. Like in our instance above, without the runway the airport became unusable and redundant leading to disappointment and frustration.
Evidently, there are so many WAYS in the world: physical, moral, spiritual, social, economic and so on. These ways lead us to certain ends; some good and others bad! For instance the legendry first president of democratic South Africa, Nelson Mandela discovered a way which was tough and rough but finally led to end of apartheid and inauguration of freedom. The word of God also made us to understand that there is a way that seems right to a man but the end of it is death (Prov. 14:12). Today, John the Baptist draws our attention so vividly to THE WAY of the Lord. This way is different from our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).
The oracle of John the Baptist resonated with that of Isaiah which instructed us to prepare a way for the Lord and make his paths straight. It is very instructive to note that before that declaration John admonished that people should repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. Here we understand that before we go ahead to prepare a WAY for the Lord there is a need for us to break with our old ways. It is at this point that we anticipate a de-construction of our ways for a re-construction of a WAY for the Lord.
De-construction, from works of Jacques Derrida in literary and philosophical analysis, refers to critical dismantling of tradition and traditional modes of thought. Here it stands for detaching and departing from sin and if you like dismantling the frameworks of sin. De-construction of our ways in this wise thus calls for insightful and effective examination of our lives. As John the Baptist suggested in his pre-messianic oracle, there should be a practical change in the way we do things; that means significantly breaking from the old ways. There is always an evidence of this as he says: “Bear fruit worthy of repentance” (Matt. 3:8).
This de-construction must touch every aspect of our lives. There is need for us to de-construct our moral choices, we must be able to de-construct our appetites and habits, we must be able to de-construct our longings and preferences, and we must be able to de-construct our relationships and inordinate engagements. The truth is that without a prior de-construction of our WAYS, it will not be possible constructing a WAY for the Lord. In a more practical way, three important things are needful for us at this time to make a way for the lord:
- Close contact with Prayer: This has to do with our communication with God. We talking to God and listening to him talk to us. This includes our fervent personal prayers and communal prayers.
- Close contact with the Sacraments: The Eucharist stands at the centre of the Church’s life and ministry. We need to be close to the sacrament at this time as our Lord whom we adore in the Eucharist is at the moment in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the first tabernacle of the Lord). There is also need for us to take a productive trip to the sacrament of penance; what we traditionally call Christmas confessions.
- Close contact with others. This could be in form of charity or other helpful aids that enhances the lives of others. After all we all got assistance from God and we should in the same way extend the same arm of assistance to others when we are in the position to do so.
John the Baptist mentioned another important element which is at the disservice of most Christians. That element is PRESUMPTION. Presumption has to do with accepting something to be true on the basis of probability. In the law of evidence it means accepting without the aid of a proof. On this, John the Baptist indicated that some people will base their salvation on the premise of ancestral relationship with Abraham; this is abject presumption.
Attentive to the foregoing, it becomes increasingly important for us to be apt in de-constructing presumption from our framework. Obviously most of us are sure of celebrating Christmas but very few are concerned about preparing spiritually for the celebration. Often we are presumptuous of many things including our salvation. The message of John the Baptist today calls for a personal decision to de-construct one’s ways and to make a dependable way for the Lord.
We are actively encouraged by the message of John the Baptist to make committed effort to de-construct our ways and make a way for the Lord. In fact our success and consequently our salvation has a lot to do with the WAY of the Lord. Our Lord Jesus Christ made it clear to us that he is the WAY (John 14:6). In life, our efficiency without God’s sufficiency will lead us to deficiency. We cannot construct a way for the Lord on top of our old ways (remember new wine should be in a new wine skin; Matt. 9:17b).
As we light the second candle today, let the words of John the Baptist make new and deeper meaning for us in terms of de-constructing our ways and making a way for the Lord. It is a matter of decision and purposeful application. There is no way we can get the blessings of Christmas if we do not make a way for the blessings to flow in. The blessings will come not through our own old and dejected ways but through the WAY of the Lord. Make a WAY for him.
Have a rewarding Second Sunday of Advent and more blessings in your life.