This Sunday’s first reading is the opening of what is often called the “Book of the Consolation of Israel”, the second part of the Book of Isaiah. In it we hear the command, “Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low.” (Isaiah 40:4).
The Christmas season can sometimes feel to us as either a mountain or a valley. Introverts may find the challenges of the season and the demand for relentless joy an obstacle as challenging as any mountain should they really not be in the mood. Extroverts may find the lull between two very active terms at school, work or university rather depressing.
The prophet’s promise, though, is that the way is smoothed. John prepares, and Christ is the way that removes the mountain barrier and the valley depression. Our way to the kingdom is levelled, enabling us to see the one indicated in the exclamation “Here is your God!” (Isaiah 40:9) The only truly joyful and nourishing Christmas is one spent receiving the Christ who is coming in to the world, and following his way.
In communion with Christ, the way, the truth and the life, at the end of this term, I wish everyone a genuinely happy and holy Christmas, looking forward to seeing you refreshed and renewed in the new year!
fr. Ben op