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“Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low.” Luke 3:5 quoting Isaiah

When preparing for a big event—like Christmas—a helpful approach is deciding on your goal, fixing it in your mind, then figuring out a plan to get there.  How can we fill every valley and make low every mountain and hill?  That, my partner in prayer, is the work of Advent.

If renewal is our goal, then today’s Gospel provides some useful guidance.  At the time of Christ’s birth, Luke recounts the imperial reign of Tiberius Caesar and his underlings, men who ruled with iron fists.  So you can imagine yourself as an ordinary person of the day asking, “How much longer can this go on?”  Take a step forward and doesn’t that all sound familiar?  We worry about violence, racism, poverty, and divisions over a vaccine that seems to be tearing us apart.  Like someone living in the age of Tiberius, we might ask the same question:  “How much longer can this go on?”  Something has to give.  But what?

Israel had hoped for drastic change as promised by Isaiah and the prophets—most likely a political change.  Luke reminds us that John the Baptist took a different approach.  He offered the waters of baptism for a personal renewal—renewal of heart and soul.  We know this because the original meaning of “baptism” as recorded in Luke’s Gospel actually means, “receiving a new kind of mind, a new way of thinking.”  

Renewal through forgiveness is John the Baptist’s message to the world.  He deftly used the symbolism of water to make his point, something the Jews of his day would have understood.  They remembered well the difficult crossing of the Red Sea and the River Jordan into the Promised Land.  Interesting that even now, just weeks before Christmas, we hear the language of Exodus.  Today’s Gospel is saying that we deal with the “winding roads” of life through repentance and forgiveness—through the healing waters of baptism.

Friend, renewal is surely the goal of Advent—our personal exodus from darkness into the light of Christ.  So how will you be renewed?  How will you respond to the things God is asking of you even amidst the turmoil of life?  Here’s my suggestion:  Think back to your own baptism and your call to mission.  Then spend some time with today’s readings, believing that your faith has given you all the strength you need to be renewed in God’s image.  In case you’re wondering, that’s my plan, too.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

Second Sunday of Advent

Our souls cry out “How long, O Lord?”

how long till justice rolls down

like a mighty river and peace springs

forth from the earth turning deserts

into oases of truth and Your mercy

falls on us like the rain.

Shorten the time, O Lord, till You return

to rule the earth in fairness and the

nations in equity lest we lose hope

and turn from walking in Your ways.

Set our feet aright upon Your way

and let forgiveness level the mountains

and service fill in the rough roads

that lead to Your kingdom on earth.

Send forth Your light to lead us to You

that we might put aside deeds of darkness

and welcome You into our hearts and homes.

Amen.

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

ABOUT MARYKNOLL

We are a Catholic Society of priests and brothers based in the United States. We are dedicated to missionary work overseas in over 20 countries. Additionally, we animate Catholics in the United States to follow their own baptismal call to share God’s compassion and love with the poor, the sick, and all those in need.

OUR GENERAL COUNCIL

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Fr. Lance P. Nadeau, Fr. James M. Lynch, Fr. Timothy O. Kilkelly)

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers is overseen by our General Council, led by Superior General Rev. Lance P. Nadeau, M.M.

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OUR FOUNDERS

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Our Co-Founders Father Price and Father Walsh)

PLACES WE SERVE

EVANGELIZATION, PARISHES, AND PROJECTS

USA

STORIES OF MISSION

(Africa) Education and Formation of African Clergy

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Africa Region will provide tuition assistance to African clergy, male and female religious at institutes of higher education or specialized training. Read More

Stories of Our Global Mission

The calling of a lifetime
The life of a Maryknoll missioner is challenging, fulfilling, and deeply rewarding. Follow your baptismal call to mission by sharing God’s compassion with the poor, the sick, and people most in need.