‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ Quoting the Prophet Isaiah, John the Baptist calls on the world to prepare the way for Christ, and hence, once again, we live the Spirit of Advent.
He says, furthermore, continuing the quote from Isaiah, "Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth" (Luke 3:5).
Our world is full of crooked roads, winding under the shadow of death. It is a world disgusted with the murderous acts of ISIS and weary of the racial divides in Ferguson, MO. And with a deeper destruction and greater number of victims than these or any other evils, abortion continues to tear apart children in the womb, their families, and our whole society. Ours is a world that needs Advent, a world that needs Christ.
Christ’s coming ushers in the final triumph of life over death. The preparation for that coming, therefore, includes repentance from the works of death, including abortion. Not only individuals but nations likewise need to repent. This repentance includes living with active respect for every human life, and building a society of justice and welcome for the most vulnerable.
"Prepare the way of the Lord”, who is a God of Justice. “Every valley shall be filled” – the valleys where people languish because their rights are trampled, their dignity forgotten, and their lives thrown onto the outskirts of society. “Every mountain and hill shall be made low” – the mountains of pride whereby we think our own choices determine what is right and wrong, rather than submitting our choices to the truth that became visible when Christ was born.
Promoting justice and human rights is a key element of our preparation. A society that aborts its children is not prepared for the coming of Christ. Individuals who ignore the massive slaughter of tens of millions of babies are not prepared to welcome the God who became a little baby.
The Christmas hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem” relates that “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.” Throughout the millennia of history, the human heart has been torn between hope and fear. We fear the menace of death, destruction, and meaninglessness. Yet we yearn in hope for One who can save, protect, and fulfill us. And how does that One, foretold by the prophets and by the mighty acts of God’s intervention to save his people of old, finally come to us? He comes as an unborn child. The almighty Son of God did not appear on earth as a king on the clouds or an adult teaching his message. He first appeared by being hidden in the womb of his mother. He first appeared so small that the naked eye could not see him. He came through a pregnancy and lived as a child in the womb.
Hence the great encyclical The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae) reminds us that the joy of the birth of Christ is reflected in the joy of the birth of every child.
May we prepare to welcome Christ by welcoming and protecting every unborn child. Happy Advent!