(Adults, you could begin by reading the scripture to your child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection, turn to scripture, and then continue with the reflection.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, when we light the second candle on our Advent wreath, we hear about John the Baptist who is a cousin of Jesus. John the Baptist is a preparation person. He prepares the people of Israel for Jesus who comes to speak about the Kingdom of God in a way no one has ever spoken before. In Advent, we listen to John the Baptist as we prepare to celebrate the feast of the Light of God coming into the world.
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God has come near.”
John the Baptist tells the people to repent because the Kingdom of God has come near. "Repent" means to turn around. But if we turn around, do we see the Kingdom of God? Perhaps there is something in the way, something blocking our sight?
John the Baptist also says,
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’”
What can this mean, "Make his paths straight"?
If we are trying to get somewhere quickly, which path would we choose to take?
A straight path, or a winding, crooked path?
If the path is straight, how much more can we see?
We have to wonder, though, why is the path to the Kingdom of God not straight already?
Why do we have to prepare the way of the Lord?
If God wants to come near to us, why is the way not already clear?
Who makes the path to God winding or crooked?
Perhaps we are the ones who put things in the way of God. Perhaps, by our choices, we make the way to God not so very clear, not so very straight.
Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to John, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
When the people hear John say, "Repent! Turn around!,"
they go to him to have him pour the waters of the Jordan River over their heads,
to be washed clean,
to make things right between themselves and God.
They also confess their sins. That means they say out loud the things they have done that have made the way to God crooked. They want to straighten things out, so they speak their sins, getting rid of them in the waters of the Jordan.
Most of us have already been baptized long ago. But we still make choices that make the way to God not so straight. In this time of Advent, to prepare the way of the Lord, many people choose to go to the sacrament of Reconciliation. "Reconciliation" means to make things right between God and us.
Some of us make be preparing for the sacrament for the very first time. Here is a video that may help us prepare:
Some of us may be returning to the sacrament of Reconciliation. This video may help us refresh our memory and to prepare:
What if we are not yet ready to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation? What can we do to make the way to God straight? One way, is to listen to the Word of God. Best of all would be to ask someone to read the Bible with us this Advent. Together, we can talk about what we hear. When we do this, Jesus is with us, and Jesus helps us make the way to him straight.