“Prepare the way of the Lord.”
A reading from the Book of Isaiah ( Isaiah 40: 1-5.9-11)
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Ps85:9aband10.11-12.13-14(R.8)
R/. Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and grant us your salvation.
I will hear what the Lord God speaks;
He speaks of peace for his people and his faithful,
His salvation is near for those who fear him,
And his glory will dwell in our land. R.
Merciful love and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have kissed.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth,
and justice look down from heaven. R.
Also the LORD will bestow his bounty,
and our earth shall yield its increase.
Justice will march before him,
And guide his steps on the way. R.
“We wait for new heavens and a new earth.”
A reading from the second Letter of Saint Peter (2 Peter3:8-14)
Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is for bearing towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burnt up. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to his promise we wait. For new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
The word of the Lord.
Alleluia. Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight; all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Alleluia.
“Make straight the paths of the Lord.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (Mark I: 1-8)
The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, and had a leather belt around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
While the people of Israel were in exile in Babylon, Isaiah came with a message of hope and restoration. The instruction to make the path in the wilderness straight and to level up all the valleys would be meaningful to the people since the route between Babylon and Jerusalem is full of rough and crooked paths, hills and valleys. So, if the promised journey to restoration would be a smooth one, these hazards needs to be taken care of. Yet, Isaiah was pointing to something more than physical deserts, the wilderness and the valleys. He was talking about their spiritual state. We need to make ourselves clean so that when the Lord comes, we shall be ready to accept him. Remember that we do not know when the Lord would come. Hence, St Peter encourages us to stop calculating the dates and concentrate more on living good lives. The best way to wait for the Lord is by living holy lives. Assuming the second coming happens now, would you be found ready?