Baruch 5:1-9; (or Malachi 3:1-4); Luke 1:68-79 (aka Canticle 16); Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6
“Semper Paratus” (Always Ready) – Motto of the United States Coast Guard and also of the Long Beach, California Fire Department
We are the voice in the wilderness. We are John the Baptist. Every Advent we read about John the Jordan River baptizer preparing the way. We don’t read about him simply to admire his quirkiness, his countercultural manners, which are admirable enough in themselves. We call him to mind so we in turn can begin anew the journey. Who is John the Baptist today? We are. Are we prepared? We are not prepared unless we are ready to rush in like the Coast Guard, like the fire department, like John. Semper paratus. A very specific word (message) from God came upon John. (see Greek below) That message was “repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). We naturally first think of our own shortcomings that we need to turn away from. The word “re-pent” literally means to turn again. We can always do it again. We forever are keen on God forgiving us again and again. That’s the easy part of the repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Yet, let’s look at it another way, sort of squint and see it all differently. Can we turn from our own lack of forgiving others? Now that would be repentance. That would prepare the way, the way for others. When we forgive others we make the way straight, the rough smooth (Luke 3:5). God and humans can travel to meet on a road like that. Forgiving others will also prepare our own hearts, making them not so coarse. We know, if we have lived long enough, that this sort of preparation is not a once and for all thing, a one time job. We need to be “always” prepared and preparing, “semper.” So once again we read of John the Preparing One, again, and again next year.
In Luke 3:2 practically all translations say “the” word of God came to John. Sounds like a very general communication. However, the Greek literally says “a” word of God came on John. With the article “a” it sound s like a specific, precise message.
Turn round, pent again.
See mercy path now rock free.
Prepared for you me.