December 2, 2021

Infrastructure Plan

John went into all the region around 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, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 

'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 

  • Every valley shall be filled,
  • and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
  • and the crooked shall be made straight,
  • and the rough ways made smooth;

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'" (Luke 3:2-6)

Earlier this week I was reflecting on this reading (part of this coming Sunday’s Gospel) and for the first time ever I saw the verses about valleys, mountains and hills, and rough ways, not as prophetic predictions about what will happen, but imperative commands — continuing on in the directive mode from “Prepare the way” and “make his paths straight” — about what shall be done. So I format them here as a to-do bullet list.

In short, this is a divine infrastructure plan spelling out exactly what repentance entails; a detailed list of instructions for preparing a way for the Lord, a straight path for God to enter our hearts. 

Every valley of despondency and depression, of neediness or greed, is to be filled in. Every mountain or hill of pride or self-importance is to be brought down, every twisted self-righteous self-defense for past wrongs straightened out and untangled, every rough or brutal thought put aside. Only then, only when repentance has made a way, will the eyes of the heart see salvation standing clear and bright and unobstructed.

The good news is that this is not our work alone: God has made this massive repair to the human infrastructure possible through the grace of God’s enlightening instruction, the Word of command and of comfort; for as Isaiah also reports, God’s Word shall accomplish God’s purpose, and succeed in those things for which God has sent it. (55:11) In this case, the Word is God coming to be in the very flesh that shall not only see the salvation of God, but know it inwardly, incarnate in each human heart by the grace that plants itself within us.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

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