John the Baptist was identified as a lone voice crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord.” The key word here is “lone.” He didn’t have disciples to help him spread this message—at least while he was alive. He seemed to know the heavy lifting was going to happen when Christ came on the scene.

And when Jesus did come he surrounded himself with men he trusted to preach his gospel. These were simple men, like John the Baptist was, uncomplicated by their own screwed up ideologies. They were pure vehicles of the Gospel, and by the time Paul came on the scene he had to prepare another generation of gospel carriers. He knew he couldn’t do it by himself. In today’s second reading he tells the Philippians, “Every time I pray for you all, I always pray with joy for your partnership in the gospel from the very first day up to the present.”

A partnership is a relationship formed for the purpose of shared profit. In the case of Christians, thanks to the gospels, we share the words of the prophets to help us arrive at a unified vision of the salvation Jesus won for us. John said “make straight his path. Today’s first reading from Baruch states that God has “decreed the flattening of each high mountain, of the everlasting hills, the filling of the valleys to make the ground level so thatIsraelcan walk safely in God’s glory.” This is echoed in Luke’s Gospel: “Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be leveled, winding ways be straightened and rough roads made smooth, and all humanity will see the salvation of God.”

The idea is that God’s prophets worked as partners to prepare a universal pathway that would make it possible for all people to be exposed to God’s message. It’s left to us to decide whether we’ll continue that work along the way to the narrow gate or take a detour leading nowhere. At least nowhere we’d want to be.