The famous fable about the ant and the grasshopper remains a significant anecdote on the importance of preparation. The ant works hard during the summer, storing up food and building up a safe and warm basement house underneath the soil. The grasshopper, on the other hand, plays around and thinks that the ant is overly enthusiastic and stupid. The winter arrives sooner than usual. The ant is warm and well-fed while the grasshopper starves, freezes and dies in the cold.
Before the deluge that destroyed the world, God enjoined Noah to prepare by building the ark which would protect the different living creatures from the flood. Noah takes time to build the ark while the people in his city laugh at him like the grasshopper would do to the ant (Gen. 6:1ff). Before the people of Israel encountered the majestic presence of God, Moses had to prepare the people for the third day (Gen. 19:15-17).
The world runs on the contingency of preparation whether proximate or immediate. Preparation is essential to life as the foreground to success. We are conversant with the statement that says that failure to prepare is a preparation to fail. Our All-knowing and All-powerful God follow the path of preparation in His dealings with us, for instance, he made the living habitations first before creating the living creatures.
The Liturgy of the Word this Second Sunday of Advent challenges us to get into the preparation mood as the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ approaches. In the First Reading (Baruch 5:1-9), the Prophets Baruch anticipates a time of glorious divine liberation. He goes further to unveil God’s command that would precede the divine liberation: lofty mountain be made low, and the age-old depths and gorges are filled to level ground.
The Gospel Reading (Luke 3:1-6), tells us about the ministry of John the Baptist which consists of baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The Gospel passage identifies the ministry of John as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah about the voice crying out in the desert saying:
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.
Bringing Down the Lofty Mountains
A mountain is an elevated landscape. Put in another way; a mountain is a natural landform that rises higher than its extended surrounding. There are two ways of understanding a mountain in the Bible. First, it shows a place of divine encounter and a point of protection. Moses encountered God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:3ff), Elijah did on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:11-12), and the psalmist says that those who trust in God are like Mount Zion (Psalm 125:1-2).
Some other places in the Bible identify mountains as obstacles that need to be moved. The book of Job (9:5) tells us that God moves mountains when he overturns them in His anger. In the Gospel of Mark (11:23), our Lord says that anyone with faith can move a mountain (a challenge or obstacle) into the sea.
The description “lofty mountain” in the First Reading is an indication that the mountain has an exaggerated height; that means it is supercilious and arrogant. This description resonates with what sin does in our lives. It takes us to a false height and gives us false security.
We could recall that in one of the temptations, the devil took Jesus to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor (Matt. 4:8). The high mountain here is the point of sin and disobedience. Bringing down the lofty mountain means dismantling all the structures of sin in our lives. It means coming down to the level that God had designed for us.
Filling the Valleys
A valley is an extreme opposite for a mountain. It indicates the absence of what should be present; a deficiency. Spiritual valleys represent the potholes and gorges in our lives due to the lack of essential values. Ezekiel talks about the valley of dead dry bones (Ezk. 37:1ff) In the Book of Psalms (23:4), David relates valley with the shadow of death.
Filling that valley would mean bringing back the virtues and values we lost on account of our senseless ties with mundane things. We fill the valleys of our lives after dismantling the lofty mountains and allowing the grace of God to lead us.
This Second Sunday of Advent provides a step forward in our march towards the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord is coming to us, and the roadway is our hearts, and we need to make that roadway usable for the advent of the Lord.
In the Second Reading (Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11), St. Paul encourages this roadway reconstruction by increasing in our love, knowledge, discernment of right values and keeping ourselves pure and blameless for the day of Christ. We could further achieve the demands of this invitation to prepare by giving up the old lives and (Eph. 4:22) and taking up the new life (Eph. 4:24).
As we march into the Second Sunday of Advent, may we pay attention to the call for personal preparation beyond the external decorations we set up around us. The ideal preparation is not the Christmas tree nor the images of Santa around our living spaces. The journey is within the heart, and that is where we shall meet the Lord.
Have a beautiful Second Sunday of Advent and keep up with the spirit of committed waiting and preparation for the coming of the Lord.