Whenever I think of Advent, I think of John the Baptist. The Baptist was the voice crying from the wilderness to the people of his generation to prepare the way for the Lord. We are not spared of this message. The Church is the voice crying out from the wilderness to our own generation, even if she confesses that “it is not I for I am not even worthy to loosen the laces of His sandals!” She cries out to us, announcing that there will be a coming, a final coming, where the radical and redemptive love of Christ will prove wrong our popularized conception of sentimental love. And this love will come when God wills it; not when it suits us. We all must wait, even the Church. We must learn, the Baptist teaches us, to be patient in our own preparation for the Lord’s coming.
But there will be those of us who, even with the most genuine religious convictions, will lose patience. We may start to pose the question to the Church, as those who asked the Baptist: who are you and what are you doing if you are not the one who is to come? The answer will come from the Church that she is a provisional messenger sent to prepare His way. Yet, the answer may not satisfy our preconceived understandings of reality and we may start looking elsewhere for this God who is to come. And all too often, as St. Augustine teaches us through the example of his early life, this search for God elsewhere in lost of patience leads us to a wilderness of our own. In this wilderness, we no longer cry out for a preparation for one who is to come, and for whom we are not even worthy to untie the laces of his sandals. Rather, in this wilderness, we have replaced the one who is to come and even God himself is not worthy to untie the laces of our sandals.
No, my friends, we cannot disregard the messenger (the Church) and what she has to say simply because the voices that come from her are human. The forerunner may only be provisional and not the reality that is God Himself, but the Gospels teach us that He only comes to those who love those He sent ahead of Him and take heed of their divinely-inspired wisdom. In this season of Advent, the Church is calling us to prepare our lives in ways of faith, hope, love, and patience for Christ, the Ever Living Word. How will we respond?
Have a blessed Tuesday!