Prepare the Way

BY JESSICA WROBLESKI | December 6, 2021
Sunday’s Readings

“A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“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.”
(Luke 3:4-6)

I realize how ironic it is that when I read this text, I can’t help thinking of the ways that the practice of mountaintop removal mining has disfigured the face of the land in Appalachia and destroyed the livelihood and health of its people—when the intent of the text is precisely the opposite. 

prepare the way

In fact, this Gospel proclaims God’s salvation for all fleshnot just human beings—and thereby underscores the importance of integral ecology as a framework for Christian life. The crises of earth and the crises of humanity are intertwined, Pope Francis reminds us—and we can see this clearly in places like Appalachia, where industry has wielded power over not just economics and politics, but the air and water themselves and therefore the creatures and communities that depend on them. 

In the same prophetic spirit as Mary’s magnificat, which appears a few chapters earlier in Luke, this Sunday’s Gospel offers an image that is the geological equivalent of casting down the powerful (like those figures named at the beginning of the chapter) from their high places and empowering the lowly and poor. It is a proclamation that preparing for the coming reign of Christ means transforming oppressive systems and crooked structures and lifting up all who are beaten down by them. 

This is an important and noteworthy contrast: whereas “getting ready for the holidays” in our affluent culture often looks like eating more, buying more, driving more, and consuming more, preparing the way for Christ involves repenting of our human arrogance and our tendency to see ourselves as the pinnacle of creation. This Advent, may we prepare for the coming of Christ by lifting up the valleys and hollers and looking to the forgotten corners of Earth to bring about social change rooted in kinship and equality before God.   

3 replies
  1. Mary E Donato
    Mary E Donato says:

    I feel so small and powerless to protect God’s creation against those who would destroy it for profit …

  2. Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    “This Advent, may we prepare for the coming of Christ by lifting up the valleys and hollers and looking to the forgotten corners of Earth to bring about social change rooted in kinship and equality before God.” Thank you, Jessica, for this beautiful meditation on creation. As we strive for equity in our society we realize that God gives us hints a we prepare the way of the Lord. The hints are not using as much of the resources available but being cautious on how we use them. Walk if possible and don’t use the fossil fuels. Don’t waste foodbuy what you need or a little less so that the bags of waste don’t form the methane gas that clogs up the atmosphere. Vote against fraking so that the mountain tops will be preserved for further generations. To me the issue of kinship brought out is one of sharing our resources with others – be it food, clothing or money. The more we share, the more we realize that the mystical body of Christ is present in us and around us.Offer, too, the gift of ourselves in what we do to comebat discouragement and the need for material possessions and help us to realize what we have is enough – our God and His people.

  3. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Eating more, buying more, driving more, and consuming more – this cannot be our way of proceeding. Looking and being filled with admiration for the Child Jesus in the manger, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, their sheep, cattle, the wise kings, from the Orient, the Star of Bethlehem – all these create awe and reverence that are so vital to enjoy the true spirit of Christmas. Maranatha.


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