December 07, 2014
Second Sunday of Advent
Gospel Mk 1:1-8
Make straight the paths of the Lord
It is that time of the year when we hear John the Baptist proclaim a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.Once again, we are called to prepare the way of the Lord and to open the door of our hearts.
John was already known in his locality. He could have proclaimed that he is the Messiah, but he was humble enough to admit that he was only a messenger who prepared the way of the Lord – that he was not worthy to stoop and loosen the strap of Jesus’ sandals. He further stated that the Messiah “must increase, while he must decrease,” and this One who is coming will baptize, not merely with water, but with the Holy Spirit.
As we are all engaged in planning and preparation for Christmas at home, at work, and in whatever we do these weeks, we might ask ourselves: How do our preparations point out Christ to others? How do we open our hearts? We get inspiration from the work of John the Baptist. Each and every one of us carries on an important ministry of John in the church and in the world. Maybe we can escape into the desert of our hearts to smash any false gods that linger there – these false gods that control us like any of our addictions. And then, we allow ourselves to encounter the living waters of Jesus to quench our thirst.
Advent is an excellent time to make this meaningful encounter with Christ – in the sacrament of reconciliation, in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, in our participation in helping out the underprivileged. I once read a story about the artist Warner Sallmann who finished a painting entitled Christ at Heart’s Door. Whether the story is true or not, it brings out an important point about opening one’s heart. The said image is so popular that it is used in stampitas, posters, and even calendars. In this painting Jesus stands at the door of the cottage, a lighted lantern in his hand, knocking gently on the cottage door.
According to this story, after he had finished the painting, Sallmann called a neighbor over to view it. The neighbor was duly impressed. He thought it a masterpiece, which it is. But in parting he said that he saw one mistake. “The picture is not yet finished.”
“What is that?”Sallmann curiously asked.
“The cottage door.” The neighbor confidently said. “Christ is knocking. But there is no handle there.”
Sallmann smiled and said: “No, the painting is finished. That cottage door represents the human heart. And you see the human heart can only be opened from the inside.”
We alone can open our hearts to Christ and His love. The Lord does not and will not force his way through our hearts. During this season of waiting and preparation for the birth of the Messiah, let our good deeds be the doorway through which the Lord can enter – the Lord who brings joy, faith, hope, and service. The Lord is our special GUEST this forthcoming season of celebration and thanksgiving.And as has been said time and again, in many times and in so many ways, He is at the heart of Christmas.
Fr. Stephen Abuan, SJ