4th Sunday in Advent
Parate viam Domini. Make ready the way of the Lord.
The season of Advent which is now drawing to a close is, like Lent, paradigmatic for the entire Christian life. Christian history itself is situated between Our Lord’s first coming and His second. We therefore are constantly referring back to that first coming, and being drawn towards the second. With each passing day, the final one looms nearer. That is why Holy Church never tires of reminding of that longed-for event. The Lord is coming, and therefore we must be ready. Parate viam Domini.
How do we prepare? Two great models are given to us by the liturgy. St John the Baptist cries out to us “Make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled; every mountain and hill shall be brought low; the crooked shall be made straight; the rough ways plain”.
The filling of the valleys refers to the hearts of those who are discouraged and tired from the way. They feel as if they will not make it, that all their efforts are futile. Let them be filled with trust and confidence that the Lord will return and restore all things, and all their efforts will be rewarded.
The mountains and hills are the proud, the overly ambitious hearts who imagine they know, who think they can do it on their own: they must be humbled in order to allow the Lord alone to be exalted.
The crooked are those who refuse to see the simplicity of the evangelical way; they are always inventing new paradigms which lead off into the wasteland of error and immorality: they must allow themselves to be led along the straight, simple path to the Lord.
The rough are those whose passions will not allow them to journey smoothly along the level way to paradise: they must become meek as lambs and learn to be led.
The other great model is of course Our Blessed Lady. She awaits the birth of the Divine Infant with the greatest spiritual longing. She does not know what to expect, but she does abandon herself to God’s will, repeating her fiat and making herself ready for whatever might befall her and her Child.
The Baptist incites us to offer penance and sacrifice, assuredly the best way to prepare for the new birth of the Son of God. His austere life is a rebuke to us. It challenges us to do greater things for God and neighbour.
Mary incites us to do everything with love and spiritual longing.
Rorate coeli desuper, et nubes pluant justum. May the heavens drop down dew, may the clouds rain the just. Let the earth open and bud forth the Saviour.
The virginal womb is about to open, and yet it will remain closed. The Lord Himself will leave the bridal chamber of her chaste bosom, leaving it ever intact. Let us be prepared, and open ourselves to the grace He will offer once again at the beautiful feast of Christmas.