Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Voice Cries Out: Prepare a Highway for God!

This week Deacon Jonathan Sorensen has authored the reflection on the Sunday Scriptures for The Catholic Spirit. His reflection follows.


A voice cries out: Prepare a highway for God!

The prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, wrote the first part of this book, but today’s reading (chapter 40) begins what scholars call Second Isaiah, an anonymous prophet who wrote after the time of the Babylonian exile.

First Isaiah’s pro­phecies are menacing, calling the people to task. At the time, the rich were growing richer, partly because of their op­pression of the poor and weak. Isaiah challenged them, but they did not listen.

Due to their injustice and to the other sins documented by the prophets, God allowed Israel to be punished through the hands of a foreign power. Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed, and the people were carried across the Arabian Desert to Babylon.

Second Isaiah follows God’s command to “comfort my people” (Isaiah 40:1) and announces that his people have paid for their sins. In turn, a nameless voice cries out to prepare the way for the Lord through the wilderness.

This is not a road for God alone, but it is for God to lead his people back to Jerusalem. It is to be a smooth road, with every valley (rut) filled in and every mountain (bump) leveled.

Mark’s Gospel attributes the nameless voice to John the Baptist. John paves the way for the coming (the advent) of the Christ. He makes a smooth road by first having the people acknowledge their sins: “They were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins” (Mark 1:5).

Second, he turned their minds to the coming of the Christ: “One mightier than I is coming after me” (Mark 1:7). John prepared the road because God was about to lead his people out of the exile of sin back to their heavenly homeland, through the advent of Jesus Christ.

But "advent" refers not only to the first coming of Jesus, but also to his second coming, when he will judge his people’s righteousness and separate the sheep from the goats.

What will be the qualification to join Christ in his kingdom? “Whatever you did for the poor, you did for me; what­ever you did not do for the poor, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:40, 45).

If we, as Minnesotans, are spending tens of millions of dollars over several years to build a smooth highway for commuters on the 35W/Crosstown interchange, then can we also make enormous investments of time and resources into shelters and food banks or into public transit for those who cannot afford cars and gasoline?

A highway of justice for the poor and vulnerable must be built, and along that road we will find our salvation!

Let us begin by confessing our sins. Then we can work with eager hands and hearts on the highway of God’s justice, looking for the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ.