Fourth Sunday of Advent
Once more the austere figure of the Baptist rises to meet us. In these last few days before Christmas his voice will be heard each day. And what does he say: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain (Lk 3:4-5). He was not the first to pronounce them. Centuries before, the prophet Isaiah had let them ring out across the Judean countryside, as a prophecy of the One to come and the servant who would prepare His way.
Every prophet prepares the way of the Lord. Every priest opens up for souls the way to God. Words are heard, seed is sown, making souls ready for the visit of God. Those words are destined to produce fruits of penance in our souls, and not just any penance, but worthy penance, meaning penance that is fitting for our past sins. St Gregory reminded this morning at Matins that fruits worthy of penance are efforts made to deprive ourselves of licit pleasures to make amends for the times that we have indulged in illicit ones. St Benedict, for his part, reminds us in the Rule that the days of our life are prolonged so that we may achieve that true conversion of heart which is intimately linked with practical forms of self-denial and acceptance of the aches and pains of this life.
In the words of the Baptist, mention is made of valleys being filled, of mountains being brought low, of crooked paths being made straight and rough ways made plain. These words have nothing to do with landscaping, they do not mean that the world will become all flat. They indicate spiritual attitudes that must be changed, and that will be changed thanks to the grace of the coming Messiah.
Mountains shall be brought low because the proud will be humbled, and in some cases become humble. Valleys shall be filled because humble souls shall be replete with the treasures of grace given only to their like, and they shall be ultimately exalted. Crooked ways shall be made straight because some wicked souls will leave behind their tortuous paths. The rough ways shall become even because all that is an obstacle to our progress in the way to salvation and perfection shall be removed thanks to Christ’s coming.
We can see that, like many of the Messianic prophecies, their complete fulfilment will not be until the coming of the kingdom of God at the end of time. In the meanwhile there is already a partial fulfilment in the lives of the saints, and each of us is called to take part in that grace.
We are all called to become meek and humble of heart, thus lowering the mountains of our self-sufficiency. We are all called to let ourselves be filled with God, but this is possible only inasmuch as we recognise our emptiness, our need for God, our incapacity to be our own saviour. We are called to walk straight to God, to stop fooling ourselves with lies about our real intentions, to eliminate all the crooked ways in which we pretend to be who we are not, to put on masks to appear holy and attain things that we want in roundabout ways. We are all called to let the Lord file away at all the asperities of our souls that keep us and others from enjoying the peace that is given only to the righteous and from attaining the salvation that God wants to give.
If we consistently work at these four things, then we can attain to that state of the servant of whom St Paul speaks in the epistle, and who is found faithful. It matters little to the servant of Christ what others think. He knows that God is his judge and that on the last day light will be thrown on all things.
Can we make bold to make some practical applications to our world? What would the Baptist say to us today if he returned. In his day he told the people:
Ye offspring of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of penance: … For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down and cast into the fire. … I indeed baptize you with water: but there shall come one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to loose. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire; Whose fan is in his hand: and he will purge his floor and will gather the wheat into his barn: but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.
Perhaps if he were to return today, he might say to us:
O ye mountains of collective pride! You think you have reason to trust in the achievements of your technology. You have mastered, or so you think, the manipulation of creation, even going so far as to dream of remaking man better than he was before: you will be brought low, so low that you will be like King Nabuchodonosor, who because of his pride was punished and “was driven away from among men, and did eat grass, like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven: till his hairs grew like the feathers of eagles, and his nails like birds’ claws” (Dan 4:30).
O ye crooked souls, who are unceasingly looking for ways of profit, floating around with the wind, changing your vest with every new fad, so crooked that you even exploit the bodies of children you have murdered in a laboratory. You are able to weep for the tragic accidental death of a few children who were at play, but you are so blind to reality that you will never mention the millions of children killed before they even saw the light of day. Woe you for those crimes that are an abomination before God, a supreme dishonour to the Creator. O ye souls, full of yourselves, who are always putting obstacles in the way of grace! Always prompt to tone down the truth and to promote falsehood! If you are so concerned with our children, why do you not listen to those who know what is good for them? At this very moment, when Australians are being assured by the government that we need to vaccinate our children, let’s listen to someone who knows. The very inventor of the technology, Dr Robert Malone, made this declaration just last week:
“Before you inject your child – a decision that is irreversible – I wanted to let you know the scientific facts about this genetic vaccine, which is based on the mRNA vaccine technology I created: There are three issues parents need to understand: The first is that a viral gene will be injected into your children’s cells. This gene forces your child’s body to make toxic spike proteins. These proteins often cause permanent damage in children’s critical organs, including: Their brain and nervous system; Their heart and blood vessels, including blood clots; Their reproductive system, and ; This vaccine can trigger fundamental changes to their immune system. The most alarming point about this is that once these damages have occurred, they are irreparable. You can’t fix the lesions within their brain. You can’t repair heart tissue scarring. You can’t repair a genetically reset immune system, and this vaccine can cause reproductive damage that could affect future generations of your family. The second thing you need to know about is the fact that this novel technology has not been adequately tested. We need at least 5 years of testing/research before we can really understand the risks. Harms and risks from new medicines often become revealed many years later. Ask yourself if you want your own child to be part of the most radical medical experiment in human history. One final point: the reason they’re giving you to vaccinate your child is a lie. Your children represent no danger to their parents or grandparents. It’s actually the opposite. Their immunity, after getting COVID, is critical to save your family if not the world from this disease. In summary: there is no benefit for your children or your family to be vaccinating your children against the small risks of the virus, given the known health risks of the vaccine that as a parent, you and your children may have to live with for the rest of their lives.” Good Lord, come and make the crooked ways straight before any more of our children are brought to irreparable harm!
But blessed are you, ye souls who, not being ensnared by the doublespeak remain in waiting, humbling yourselves in prayer and fasting, be filled with my grace, with my love, with my fortitude. You are rejected as second class citizens because you refuse to take an experimental drug that is neither safe nor effective and that was made possible by the murder of an innocent baby. The day will come, sooner than you think, when you will be vindicated. The day is not far now when the very people who are pointing their fingers and wagging their heads will be gone, and those who knew how to wait humbly for the deliverance of God will be honoured.
You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, Our Lord warned us. Fear not, these things must come. Our great consolation is that as we await the Lord’s return in glory, we have the words of the Baptist and all the holy prophets, and greater consolation still, right now we have the loving, consoling, inspiring presence of a Mother, the very Mother of Christ. As she waited then for the birth of Jesus, so she waits now for the birth of Christ in our souls. She waits for a new birth of Christ in our world; she waits for the world to convert, to turn back from its path of perdition, before it’s too late. Let us look up to the star, and call upon Mary. Let us imitate her virtues, her humility, her modesty, her purity, her silence, her fortitude. Let us not fear being stared at, being laughed at, being excluded, being segregated. Mary went through all that. She stands with us, she stands for life, she stands for truth. Fear not, for it is good to wait in silence for the salvation of God. (Lam 3:26)