The Gospel reading yesterday, the second Sunday of Advent, spoke of healing and being made new. It spoke to the exile and alienation of the People of God, and of all people. It offered hope and wholeness.
In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the lands of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrach of Abilene, during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas the word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:
‘A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened
and rough roads made smooth.
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.’
The Bible is, necessarily, a book that makes great use of metaphor.
In our day, talk of ‘Every valley being filled in, every mountain and hill laid low, winding ways straightened, and rough roads made smooth.’ might have us wondering about the planning applications that would need to be made and the protests about safeguarding the environment. And quite right too.
However think of the objections we raise when we ourselves are called to reform and renewal. Often they are a misguided form of self-protection, not helping us but keeping us at a (sadly) safe distance from God’s healing and newness and mercy.
The metaphor of highway building is just that, a metaphor. The real change needed, offered, is in us that we might be helped to come closer to God’s presence, helped to be re-fashioned in the image of his Son. That this might happen to us as individuals and as Church.
How we hesitate, how we seeks to frustrate the plan. How we need a Year of Mercy.
- What do you fear?
- What do you hope for?
- Where are God’s plans in all this?
Photo. Work site in Vancouver. (c) 2008, Allen Morris.