Have you had the experience of walking into a mall, department store, vestibule, or apartment building and almost tripping over the rug or mat that is usually right inside the door? Somehow it gets crumpled up into little hills and it’s those little folds that catch our feet. Often we’re oblivious to them until we stumble or until, God forbid, we fall down.
And if we stumble over them, what’s our reaction? Perhaps there’s a swear word of two, or a complaining thought that maintenance isn’t doing their job? Perhaps we mentally blame the laziness of others who won’t straighten it out, and then we just keep on walking.
Or we can, if possible, straighten it out ourselves. At the very least, we could immediately get ahold of someone who could put things right for the sake of others who are coming after.
So here’s the question that springs to my mind from Sunday’s readings: how can you and I prepare the way for those who are following you? How can we straighten out the crumpled rugs of life that everyone faces at one time or another?
Isaiah describes those rugs perfectly. There can be spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical poverty … especially evident this time of year. Broken hearts abound everywhere we look. People are held captive by forces beyond their control, such as illness, disability, the sinful actions of others, the ice and snow which prevents them from going outside.
To use Paul’s words, we can also straighten out mats for others by being a person of good cheer, one who is always grateful. Grumblers and complainers always hinder others’ enjoyment of life, whereas grateful people enhance the daily journey. And from John’s Gospel, we can enhance life by being true to ourselves, instead of pretending to be someone we’re not.
The call to straighten out the rugs of life for the same of others is God’s grace at work in us. I pray that we can respond to that call and prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.
Here’s hoping you continue to have a good Advent!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.