‘“Make straight the way of the Lord”’ (Jn 1:23)

by Shiu Lan
Third Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 61:1-2A, 10-11

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

John 1:6-8, 19-28

When John the Baptist is asked who he is in this week’s Gospel reading, he replies as the Prophet Isaiah said, that he is to ‘“Make straight the way of the Lord”’ (Gospel reading Jn 1:23). He baptizes with water and proclaims that Jesus is “the one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; … he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mk 1:8).

What does John’s reply mean to us now, we who were already baptized with water and with the Holy Spirit? Is there a part we can play to make straight the way of the Lord?

The first thing that comes to mind is to live our life in an exemplary way for others to see that we are true Christians. Irrespective of our circumstances, if we live out the Gospel, God may inspire others to join us in walking the way of the Lord.

If we are one of the lucky ones who live in a relatively peaceful country, in an affluent and accommodating society, do well in life, have a good career and a loving family, let us not be lured by the dazzling worldly success to make us think that we are better than others. We are certainly clever, diligent and make good use of the talents that God bestows on us. It is not always easy to remember that our success is part of God’s plan too. We must attribute the success to Him and not ourselves. We must generously share the fruits of our labour especially with those less fortunate. If we are in a position to influence others or sacrifice ourselves for the common good, we must do so with enthusiasm, courage and humility.

If we are sick, poor, elderly, alone, down-trodden or in face of challenges too big to bear, let us remember that all things will past, the tribulation we encounter has meaning and a purpose in God’s plan for us. Let us not think that God has forsaken us and leave us to walk alone in our predicament. Our life is not just about life in this world but also life in the world to come. Let us follow St. Paul’s advice in the second reading that we must “pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ just for you” (1 Th 5:17-18). Sometimes, it is the Christian way of enduring pain and suffering that move others to follow Christ.

In the hope and joy of Advent as we prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ, let us pray for strength and guidance in following John the Baptist’s example to make straight the way of the Lord.