"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. He went throughout (the) whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: "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 see the salvation of God." Luke 3:1-6
My fondest memories of Christmas are embedded in family and in the simplest of things. We had a town square were I grew up and every Christmas they decorated it with lights and Christmas music blared all day and all night. There was a Creche with live animals. Everywhere my family went we sang Christmas carols, it is sad because they were such beautiful songs, songs of peace, hope and love and good will. The secular world has removed a great deal of those things. The "straight path" that we see today is to the shopping mall. Recently I wrote of the paradoxes of Christianity. This is really the backdrop to Sunday's Gospel. It begins by talking about Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod and Caiphas; all characters who would play a role in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The Gospel reading reminds us that though we see the image of Mother & Child, tenderly embracing, with angels sining un exaltation and visits of adoration from shepherds and wise men, Jesus came into this world to hang on a cross for the sins of the world. The straight path that was prepared for Him was to the hill of Calvary. That is what we contemplate during Advent, not what shiny gift we can get our sister or latest electronic gadget we hope we receive. Like Christ, we should all be on our own road to Calvary. In Christ we have secured hope for all eternity. By reflecting on His sacrifice we gain the strength and courage to embrace what sacrifices and crosses we must ear. We anticipate His coming for in the Child is salvation for all.