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Preparing the Way for the Lord: An Act of Hope CCC 524 When the Church celebrates the

liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the birth and martyrdom of John the Baptist, the precursor, the Church unites herself to his desire: "He must increase, but I must decrease." The Season of Advent is a time of (1) expectation, of (2) watching and waiting, and of (3) preparation. 1. The first point, Expectation, is linked to the theological virtue of Hope, hope which trusts that God will fulfill his promises - and that those promises are worth waiting for, worth holding out for, and worth working for. Pope Benedict wrote an encyclical letter on Hope Spe Salvi, and he says this about how humans need hope to live: Let us say once again, we need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope, which must surpass everything else. This great hope can only be God, who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain. The fact that it comes to us as a gift is actually part of hope. God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end [the cross], each one of us and humanity in its entirety....His love alone gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day...in a world which by its very nature is imperfect. His love is at the same time our guarantee of the existence of what we only vaguely sense and which nevertheless, in our deepest self, we await: a life that is truly life. This is what the Season of Advent is about, rediscovering in an act of faith in God that amid the darkness of our world that seems at times to engulf us, there is a great Victor in the Light of the World that scatters that darkness: Our Savior who comes to us as a little infant. 2. Watching and Waiting is exactly that awareness that our world is not perfect. We have difficulties around us and even within us, and we await for Christ the King to establish his reign over the whole world, over our entire person. 3. Preparation As we hear in Isaiah, prepare a way for the Lord. This is exactly what John the Baptist worked at, and why we are here today. Our souls need to be prepared - valleys of sadness and weakness filled, mountains of pride lowered so that in our humble residence The King of Kings will find a manger to receive Him. Just as God came in a stable surrounded by animals, shepherds, and his parents, all of whom loved and adored Him, so too Our God will gladly come to Our hearts if we are ready to love and adore Him this Christmas, and even today. 1. 2. 3.