Holy Land Pilgrimage

Prepare the Way

December 11, 2021

About three weeks ago, we began our pilgrimage with the fiery prophet Elijah at the monasteries of Stella Maris and el Muhraqa on Mt. Carmel. As we approach the end of our pilgrimage, we come upon the prophet Elijah again today in our Gospel reading from St. Matthew. Jesus says that if you are willing to accept it, John the Baptist is Elijah the prophet. (Matthew 11:14) John the Baptist fulfills the prophecy of Malachi that Elijah will come again to prepare the way of the Lord. (Malachi 3:23)

In these three weeks of our pilgrimage, we have been traveling around and visiting the fascinating and powerful holy sites. We usually celebrate the Mass that pertains to the particular holy site and in doing so, our Advent season has been a little different than usual. However, with John the Baptist in our reading today we have our great Advent figure, our fiery forerunner on the scene that allows us to dive into this expectant and hopeful season of Advent.

In less than six months, most of us will be ordained as priests of Jesus Christ. I would like to propose that John the Baptist serves as a wonderful patron and intercessor for priests, future priests, and really all followers of Christ. John the priest prepared the way for the first coming of the Christ child into the world. We are given the privilege and the profound responsibility of preparing and disposing souls for Christ to break into their lives here and now and ultimately to prepare them for Christ to come again in all his glory to judge the living and the dead. We do this by our preaching, our teaching, and by the direction and pastoral care of souls.

Let us beg for the intercession of the humble friend of the Bridegroom who prepared the way for the Bridegroom to come to that little town of Bethlehem. With John the Baptist’s patronage and prayers, we will be able to prepare ourselves and the flocks entrusted to us for Christ to break into the world here and now and ultimately be ready to celebrate when he comes again in all his glory. Amen.

Deacon Joe Wagner
Archdiocese of Atlanta

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