Isaiah tells us to prepare the way of the Lord in the desert and in the wasteland. He didn’t say to do it through a calming wood or beside a gently running stream. Isaiah knew that we don’t prepare pathways for God when we don’t feel like we “need” God. We’re doing just fine on our own, thank you.
In fact, sometimes it is only great suffering that forces our hand and prompts us to create that path. It’s when we feel unworthy of divine attention, when we are hurt and in despair, when we are in the desert crying out “How long, O Lord?”, that’s when pathways get built either to or away from God. That’s when we need to understand that God comes on God’s timetable rather than our own, but we can hasten that coming by preparing the way to our hearts, making straight the paths.
God is never going to force the way in. Yet God is always inviting, always ready to come. It is we who are not ready, who block the path with obstacles or curve it around to our liking rather than building a straight line directly into our hearts. It is we who can’t let go or trust completely, who want to direct how and where God acts. It is we who close our ears to the voice of the prophets in our midst because we don’t want to hear that message. It is we who won’t admit our sins and failings, or turn away from judgments and jealousies, white lies, harsh words, harmful anger, impatience, and hardness of heart. Can we commit to going into our personal and societal deserts and wastelands and building a new and straight path for God?
That is, after all, the work of Advent to which we are called. And it is even more necessary in our world today – a world of power-grasping violence, abuse, self-righteousness, and denial of another’s dignity and rights. Please join me as together we pave our God’s path. Find a way, no matter where you are and no matter your level of resources. Repent and allow God into your heart. Then walk that path out of your heart, hand-in-hand with God. Gather the lost in your arms, spread the love that is the only thing that can save us, and bring the light of Christ to the world. Forgive. Offer aid. Defend. Advocate. Act. Just think of the difference we could make if all Catholics, all Christians, did the same.
Now is the time. Let’s take seriously our baptism with the Holy Spirit’s fire, and help Christ be born again this season for all people. God longs to work in us to give birth to a better world, individually and communally, and God just needs a path. Can we build it?
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.