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2nd Sunday of Advent
As I was reading the gospel, the first thing that struck me was the impossibility of the predictions of John the Baptist (Lk 3).  How can you level mountains, fill up valleys, straighten crooked roads?  That is a tall order.  It must be an exaggeration.
But the Baptist was echoing something that was already foretold.  Take a look at the first reading, Baruch 5:  the mountains will be made low and the gorges will be filled to level ground.  God knows how to make incredible, unbelievable claims! In the first reading, the Lord was making a promise to end the mourning, the misery and sadness of Israel and to restore her glory and dignity.  Her children abducted from her will all return to her fold.  And the word of God is powerful to make it happen.
In the gospel, John was not merely talking about a promise, but a fulfillment.  It is happening now!  God is doing the impossible in order to save his people and draw them closer to his heart.  God will fix the obstacles, whatever they may be, so that his will be manifest and his plan effective in our lives.
What greater obstacle to salvation can we imagine than the divide between heaven and earth, between the holy Lord and sinful humanity, between the perfect heaven and weak earth?  The Lord overcame the obstacle by sending his Only Son Jesus Christ to be our Savior.  If God can accomplish this greatest act, what seemed to be exaggerated claim, incredible promise, then God can do all things to bring us closer to him.
As we travel through Advent and move closer to Christmas, the Lord is asking us to look closely into our lives and identify the obstacles to joy, the obstacles to peace, the obstacles to celebration.  What is it in you that needs to be flattened, filled up or straightened?  In our world today there are so many things that create a wall that separates us from our dreams of finally living the good life we want.  There are people and events that intensify the barriers to the real life God want us to experience.
For some, the obstacle is in the form of insurmountable problems that keep us awake at night.  For others it is the pain of severed relationships in the family or with someone we love so much.  There are also concerns regarding health, finances, reputation or the  many fears of past deeds that haunt us still.
John the Baptist comes to assure us that God loves us so much, he will remove the obstacles in our lives.  If we give God the chance…  If we allow God to prove his power… If we are willing to cooperate with his grace…
Do you believe that God can remove the obstacles to your fuller, richer, healthier and holier life?  If you do, then like John the Baptist, like the prophet Baruch, your heartbeat will run faster and your eyes glow brighter as the birth of Jesus comes closer.  I believe in the God who removes obstacles in people’s lives!