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A man visited his father in the hospital. At one point, he leaned over to his old man to whisper to him. The old man’s eyes widened and he motioned for him to come closer. He tried to talk, but was unable. Then the old man motioned for a paper and pen. He wrote a note and gave it to his son. The son replied, “Thanks, dad. I’ll read it later.” The old man motioned, “No!” but the son refused to listen. When he returned home, he read the note, which read, “You’re stepping on my oxygen tube!”
Like the son in that humorous story, we don’t always read the messages God sends us. We are too busy with the business of life to listen, pray, and reflect on God’s plan and purpose for us. Saint John the Baptist is the central figure in the readings on the second and third Sundays of Advent. “Prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight his paths!” he says to anxious and curious crowds (Mt. 3:3). John baptized the people as an external sign of repentance. He wanted them to be open and ready to receive the long-awaited Messiah.
John’s voice echoes through the centuries: Prepare for the Savior. Open your hearts. Remove the obstacles that keep you from Him. This message is just as relevant as ever. It can be communicated in new ways (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email), but the message remains the same. In a few short weeks, Christmas will be upon us. Will we be ready?
Advent is a season of preparation (as opposed to Lent, which is a season of penitence). We prepare through prayer, reflection, meditation, and liturgical celebration. Let us spend quality time this Advent just listening to the voice of Jesus, who wants to break through the busyness of life to change our hearts and form us anew.