Thought of the day
Sunday, December 4, 2016

Second Sunday of Advent

Saint Gregory the Great (c.540-604), Pope, Doctor of the Church Gospel Homilies, no.20

Second Sunday of Advent

Commentary of the day 

Saint Gregory the Great (c.540-604), Pope, Doctor of the Church 
Gospel Homilies, no.20

"Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths"

It is obvious to any reader that John did not just preach but that he administered a baptism of repentance. However, he could not give a baptism that remits sins since the remission of sins is only granted to us with the baptism of Christ. That is why the evangelist says that he was “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” (Lk 3,3); being unable himself to give the baptism that forgives sins, he announced that which was to come. Just as the word of his preaching was the forerunner of the Word of the Father made flesh, so his baptism… preceded that of the Saviour, as shadow to the truth (cf Col 2,17). 

This same John, when questioned as to who he was, replied: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,” (Jn 1,23; Is 40,3). The prophet Isaiah called him “voice” because he came before the Word. As for what he cried out, that which follows teaches us: “Prepare the ways of the Lord, make straight his paths.” Whoever preaches true faith and good works, what else is he doing than preparing the way for the Lord who comes in the hearts of his hearers? Thus all-powerful grace will be able to penetrate those hearts and the light of truth enlighten them… 

Saint Luke adds: “Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low." What is meant here by valleys if not the humble, or by the mountains and hills if not the proud? At the coming of the Redeemer…, according to his own words: “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled but the one who humbles himself will be exalted,” (Lk 14,11)… By their faith in “the mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human” (1Tim 2,5), those who believe in him have received the fullness of grace, whereas those who refuse to believe have been humbled in their pride. Every valley has been filled in since humble hearts, by receiving the words of holy doctrine, will be filled by the grace of the virtues, as it is written: “He made springs gush forth in the watercourses that wind among the valleys,” (cf Ps 104,10).