Mark 1: 1-8
For the book of Mark, the good news of Jesus Christ begins in the wilderness of Judea within an old-seemingly-odd prophet named John, saying, verse 3, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”
I believe that John quoted this message from the book of Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 3, saying, “A voice cries, ‘Clear a road through the wilderness for the Lord, prepare a highway across the desert for our Lord.”
That is what makes prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist our brothers; because most of us are waiting for something, and many of us yearn for something better even though we may not know. Isaiah and John also yearned for something better they cannot name. Neither of them knew any details—John could not even give his audience a name to listen up for.
Without the luxury of details, their messages still tell us that new life and new beginning is on its way, demanding us to empty our hearts so that there is room in us for the birth of something new and altogether unforeseen.
In this season of Advent, we are called to prepare the way for new life in our lives, to make room for it by letting go of our old ways, even our old selves, as painful as that may sometimes be.
What would happen if we had no space in us while God is still looking for a room in us?
During this season of Advent, we are invited to come out, to let go, to open up, and to empty out—not to forsake the things we love and want for our lives, but to forsake them as idols. And we all may be surprised by the fact that how deceptive some of our idols are.
What about, say, the idol of independence—the belief that everything will be all right if we can just take care of ourselves and not have to ask anyone else, including even God, to look after us?
How about the idol of family—the belief that if we can just gather around us a close, committed family, our happiness will be sure and conclusive without God?
What about the idol of religion—the belief that if we go to church SOME Sundays, and struggle to live a life of faith somewhat, then our souls will be safe?
For this Advent, we are invited to prepare the way for something new and unknown in our lives. It is about preparing a place for something new in our lives, for new life in us, and then, waiting without knowing, but faith, hope, peace, and joy will surely come, especially for those who have emptied themselves to invite the Christ.
Let’s keep saving space in us for the Christ by walking away from all kinds of idols in us and with us. Amen.