By Diann Wimmer
Norbertine Associate, St. Norbert Abbey
Prepare the Way of the Lord:
Imagine profound PEACE.
Live in HARMONY and HOPE.
Be filled with FIRE and the HOLY SPIRIT.
The Scripture readings of the second Sunday of Advent again prove that the Bible prefers to “talk in images.” Today we hear the stories of animals, trees, deserts, mountains, sandals, locusts, wild honey, water, and fire. Each story with its images holds the secret of a deep spiritual reality.
For example, imagine a shoot that sprouts from a stump. With surprise, we see new life—an awakening from what seemed dead. Like the shoot, God’s action comes forth when least expected and when the world is troubled with violent death. But God brings life, love, and light to a dark world.
Could this shoot, this promise of new life, be the story of Christmas?
Also imagine animals that, by instinct, are hostile and aggressive, but now exist in harmony and peace: the lion and the lamb or the leopard and the kid. This reading reminds one of the peaceable kingdom of the Garden of Eden. But our world suffers disorder and war and needs to hear of the proclamation of Psalm 72: “Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more.”
Could the coming of this impossible peace be the promise of Christmas?
Then imagine the Glory of Sion, the Holy Mountain, a center for a new world where people of all nations come together. A new exodus where people from north, south, east, and west move as ONE, singing with one accord and with one voice.
Could this harmony among all nations be the invitation of Christmas?
Imagine living in the desert, eating locusts and wild honey. With such discipline and solitude comes the encounter with the true self and with a merciful God. From this desert air, a voice cries out, “Prepare the Way of the Lord.” Indeed the prophet emerges filled with the presence of God and the courage to preach conversion of heart.
Could this desert-solitude help to prepare our hearts for Christmas?
Finally, imagine reaching down and loosening the sandals of a great and gracious person, one who is prophet and Messiah. John the Baptist declares his unworthiness and steps aside to announce “the one who is coming after me.” This one will baptize with FIRE and the HOLY SPIRIT.
Could humility be the path to acceptance of FIRE and the HOLY SPIRIT this Christmas?
Therefore, the readings of this second Sunday of Advent engage our imagination. The images of stumps, animals, mountains, deserts, locusts, wild honey, water, and sandals all hold a deep meaning for our preparation of Christmas. If we listen with open hearts, we may hear the invitation to the awakening of new life, to unbelievable peace, to harmony among nations, and to solitude and humility that show the way to FIRE and the HOLY SPIRIT. May God bless us with these spiritual gifts.
We come, dear God, to prepare our minds, hearts, and lives
for the celebration of Christmas.
Let us imagine profound PEACE.
Let us live in HARMONY and HOPE.
And, in your mercy, fill us with FIRE and the HOLY SPIRIT.