In the world of taxes, the dreaded “busy season” is well known. It is a time of long work hours and minimal time for anything else – family, exercise, fun, sleep, normal life experiences. If you know anyone who works as an accountant or auditor, you probably know the times of the year that they are simply unavailable. It can be incredibly overwhelming for them if they don’t plan ahead well and do all the little intangible things that help them to maintain their sanity and life during those weeks. In the Church, we are currently sitting in the middle of the Advent season. A season dedicated to waiting and preparing – much like the preseason for tax accountants and auditors. But unlike those in the tax world, Advent often seems to be a season of trying to prepare in the midst of “busy season.”
The month of December is always fast. The world is growing in excitement and building in its anticipation of Christmas, school is ending with papers and final exams, everyone is rushing to make travel plans, and to find the perfect gift. Overall, it doesn’t seem like a season that is prime for patience. If anything, it seems like a season of arrivals (if not chaos!). But that is why the Church calls us to remember to be patient in the midst of the busyness. Just like Jesus who came into the midst of humanity while we were still in the depths of our sin, the season of waiting does not come when we are ready to prepare – it comes when we NEED to prepare! But this isn’t a time that is supposed to be one more thing to overwhelm us in this season, it is something to remind us let the world slow down a bit, to look past all of it to see God at work in our lives and in the world.
John the Baptist came into the world preparing the way for Christ and calling for the repentance of sins. His message harkened back to the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low” (Isaiah 40:3-4). He wasn’t just talking about the world’s anticipation of Emmanuel and how even the landscape itself would right itself in his divine presence, but more concretely of all the mountains and valleys in our life and how we must allow them to reorient themselves towards God. There are so many things in our lives that demand our attention – school, job, family, relationships, finances, personal care (to name a few) – but each of them has the capacity to stand between us and God. This season challenges us to allow those pieces of our lives that have grown to stand between us and God or that have fallen out from under us leaving us feeling in the depths of despair to straighten themselves out so that God may have a straight path to us. And more importantly, that we may have a straight path to him!
But how do we do this, how do we knock down mountains and fill in valleys? The simple answer is that we don’t. God does. We have to surrender to Him so that he can. We have to pray. We have to receive his grace through the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. We have to love. That straight path that God walks on and calls us down, that is our vocation. Our straightest path to God and to holiness is our vocation. In this season of Advent prepare your heart by letting God hold on to the big things in our life, let Him take your cares and worries and fears, let Him hold you. Let those overwhelming pieces fade in comparison to his great love for you. Let Him lower your mountains and fill your valleys, let Him straighten your path. And then take courage in his love for you and follow that straight path to Him. May God continue to bless you this Advent season, may you know of His love and may you always follow His call in your life with courage.