December 5, 2021


Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight… all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
Luke 3: 1-6

Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent, December 5, 2021

By: The Rev. Victoria S. Esguerra
Retired Priest, Diocese of Greater Manila Area

(Reprinted with permission from “O, Come Emmanuel: Advent and Christmas Prayers and Reflections,” booklet published by the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and issued at the National Clergy Convocation, Davao City, November 19, 2018.) 


Malachi means “My messenger.” This prophet lived around 460-430 BC, and the people (Israel) felt then in their economic hardships that God had forgotten them.  Through the prophet, Malachi, God’s message was delivered to His people to reassure them of His love and to prepare for His Day of Coming. Malachi’s message from God: “I have always loved you.”


Zechariah and Elizabeth, from priestly families and a barren couple, were promised by God to have a son (John the Baptist) in their old age.  The message was given by the Angel Gabriel while Zechariah, alone in the Jerusalem Temple, was offering incense.  Due to his unbelief, Zechariah was made speechless.  God fulfilled His promise, and John (forerunner of Jesus) was born to become the new Elijah, bridging the “old” and the “new”.  Upon John’s birth, Zechariah’s speech was restored.  He prophesied and prayed for John: “You, my child, shall be the prophet of the Most High … you will prepare the way of the Lord.”  Here mutuality of faithfulness is exhibited between God and the barren couple.  Their inner longing was rewarded with their son’s special role of announcing God’s Kingdom, and they felt truly grateful.  


Philippi, a city in the province of Macedonia and a Roman colony, was the site of the first church established by Paul in Europe in 50 AD.  Also a medical center, Philippi must have been also the hometown of Luke.  Paul was indeed happy that the church there was working well in its mission of spreading the Gospel.  He sent his prayer thus, “that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless…”  Paul’s loving concern to this missionary church was to encourage, inspire, and continue on with their good works of witnessing for Christ Jesus. 


John the Baptist, son of Zechariah and Elizabeth (Mary’s cousin), “lived in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.” In the other Gospel versions, it is written that he ate locusts and wild honey, and was clothed with camel’s hair and leather belt around his waist.  He went around the region in Jordan and proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  His ministry was set against a backdrop of powerful politicians’ time:  Emperor Tiberius, Governor Pontius Pilate of Judea, Tetrarch Herod of Galilee, brother Philip as ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias ruler of Abilene, Ananas (high priest), and Caiaphas – corrupt and immoral leaders (as will be revealed later on in this Gospel).

John’s Prophecy:  The prophet/preacher, a total unknown, who came from nowhere, was now visible in the Jordan (Israel’s chief river – from the foot of Mount Hermon, through Lake Galilee, to the Dead Sea).  He was baptizing people and preaching about repentance, forgiveness of sins, and mending their evil ways: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit shall be cut down … and thrown into the fire.”  People came to him and he gave advice against corruption and evil deeds.  But he also proclaimed the coming of Someone greater than him, who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit. In all humility, John admitted that he himself was unworthy to untie the thongs of His sandals (Jesus’s).  As many listened to him, there were also many enemies made especially coming from the political and religious hierarchy.  

John cried out, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight … and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”  During the time of John, the people had to pave the roads when visiting dignitaries arrived in their places.  So this was John’s expectation of the people upon the coming of Jesus.  But this was not a literal “road-paving” both ways; but a straightening of their lives – becoming righteous in the eyes of the Lord.  The people asked John, “What shall we do?”  

STRAIGHT LIFE: So how do we make our lives straight for the Lord?

  • Life that forgives – the cleansing of the heart against hate, hurt, and harm.
  • Life that shares – the blessings with others especially with the have-nots.
  • Life that is content – for what is available to us and within our means.
  • Life that respects – especially the voiceless and the silent ones.
  • Life that believes and spreads – the truth, peace, and justice.
  • Life that honors and reverences God – and the integrity of His creation.
  • Life that proclaims the Good News of Salvation through the Lord Jesus.

SUMMARY:  In the Old Testament, through the Prophet Malachi, God first prepared the way of the Lord (His Son Jesus) by sending the message of reassuring love to His people Israel.  Then in the New Testament, He sent a son to be born through the faithful but barren couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth.  The no-longer-infertile couple felt very blessed; Zechariah the father then prophesied and prayed that his son, John, forerunner of Christ, would prepare the way of the Lord by proclaiming the baptism of repentance that would also lead to the baptism of the Holy Spirit by Jesus.  With the Incarnate God, the Church was established through the missionary journeys of Paul and other disciples.  Paul prayed for Philippi, earliest church in Europe, and the earliest Christians were bound in unity and love as they worked hard despite the persecutions.  The baptism of repentance with the fire of the Holy Spirit, through Jesus’s ministry, continues to prepare the faithful for the Second Coming of Jesus.  The scenario is now set for the Eternal King to share the Everlasting Life of abundance for all who willingly accept God’s invitation to enter the Kingdom of God.



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