Many seasoned travelers have mapping app horror stories. They involve getting too much information about routes you already know (like your own street), being directed to go the wrong way on one-way streets you don’t know, or driving through a maze of side streets to get to a building you can see from your car. The shortest distance between two points is always the best, but it was sometimes impossible to accomplish with the early versions of these phone apps. The pioneers behind them were probably like your friend who wears a t-shirt saying “Sometimes I wonder whatever became of the people who once asked me for directions.”
This intro was a circuitous way to get to the theme of the readings for the second Sunday in Advent. It’s basically about finding your most direct route to God—or making it easier for God to get to you. The first reading from Baruch (Bar 5:1-9) presages the sage advice John the Baptist offers us by way of the prophet Isaiah. Baruch lights the way toward divinity:
For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.
In the gospel reading from Luke (Lk 3:1-6), the Baptist wants us to do the necessary excavation to build a direct path for God’s word to reach us:
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
The route to God is truly a two-way street, but we would all be better off, as we find our way, if we relied on trustworthy resources. Paul had the same wish for the Philippians in our second reading (Phil 1:4-6, 8-11) as he was sending them the people who would introduce them to “The Way, The Truth, and The Life:”
I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.
That lifelong quest may require mapping help from others, but the road construction is all ours.