Thursday, November 4, 2010

Prepare the Way

“Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me…” Malachi 3: 1a

At first glance, this Scripture passage refers to St. John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, coming before the Lord to prepare the way for Him. But does it also not apply to every Christian in our world today? Aren’t you and I called to be messengers that prepare the way of the Lord? But where are we to go and how are we to prepare the way?

If we look to the example of St. John the Baptist, I think the first step is to become radically holy ourselves. The best way to lead others to Christ is to first be a passionate and authentic follower yourself. St. John left the comforts of the world to live in austerity—eating locusts and honey and wearing animal skins. Does this mean that you and I have to abandon school, work and family, move to the desert and eat bugs? Of course not, but what are some of the comforts of this world that we could do without in order to become more dependent on Christ? Are we willing to go without friends? Without things to do on a Saturday night? Are we willing to be unpopular because we stand for something? Are we willing to not cheat, not use profane language, not treat others with disrespect? Because as I see it, these are the kind of things we can do and not do that will make us seem radical in the eyes of our peers.

Secondly, are we willing to speak the Truth? Are we willing to live our lives in such a way that people are drawn—not to us—but to what we live for? St. John always pointed to the One who was to come after him. Are we always pointing to Jesus by the words we use, the actions we take, the company we keep? Do people look at us and see an arrow pointing to heaven? We don’t have to say many words to speak the Truth. In fact, in most cases, speaking is the last thing we need to do. But we do need to be ready as a messenger of Christ, to use our words to answer questions and explain and defend the Faith in charity when the time calls for words.

Lastly, are we willing to lay down our life to prepare the way? This doesn’t necessarily mean martyrdom like with St. John, but there are a thousand ways in which we can die to ourselves, to become small and humble, so that people see Christ rather than us.

Preparing the way means looking each day for the opportunities to help cultivate and work the soil of peoples’ hearts, so that when the Lord comes to knock on the door of their hearts, they are ready and eager to receive Him with great joy. It means being a friend, a shoulder to cry on, a voice of calm, a presence of peace. It means being generous, leading by example, speaking the Truth and being honest. It means sharing the love of Christ and bringing hope to others. How the world needs such messengers!

Dear Jesus, please help me to be Your messenger. Give me the grace to prepare the way for You to enter the hearts of my peers, my family—everyone I come into contact with today. May Your light and peace and hope shine through me. Amen.

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