“Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me.” - Malachi 3:1
I remember as a grade school child in CCD classes my mother (and teacher) would take this Old Testament Reading and this week of Advent to ask us "If Jesus was coming to your house for dinner, what would you do to get ready?" And the answers poured in like waters over a fall - vacuum the house, mop the floors, make the bed, prepare a special meal, get dressed up, take out the trash, get a haircut, and on and on and on.
But for Mary and Joseph this was not a hypothetical question. It was a practical reality. They were traveling to Bethlehem for the Roman census and Mary was about to go into labor. That was no excuse to stay put in Nazareth, so off they went, by foot, on a multi-day journey south. When they got to Bethlehem there was no relative to stay with, no motel with accommodations, and as much as they would have liked it there was no Airbnb. But Mary and Joseph did the best they could. They found shelter in a stable. And when there was no pack-n-play or crib available, Mary did the best she could and lined a trough with hay and lay baby Jesus in that manger. How prophetic, simple, and humble - God became flesh in the city of Bethlehem, Hebrew for "House of Bread," and was laid in a trough because one day he would become the bread of life for the world.
So what about you? How do you prepare for Jesus coming for dinner? Every week we join him for a meal around the altar. How do you prepare your heart and mind for Mass every week? What about for Christmas? How have you kept Jesus at the center of this Advent season as we approach his birth in just two days? How can you be like the prophet Malachi's message and "prepare the way before" Jesus for your family and friends?
Let us pray,
Heavenly Father, grant us an open heart to receive your Son at his Birth this Christmas. Give us gracious and courageous hearts that we mare share this message with others. Help us to always be prophets who seek to prepare his way in this world and in our lives.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
This reflection was written by Josh Schaffner
Josh Schaffner is the president of Verso Ministries and in charge of the Indianapolis headquarters for Verso! He is a proud husband and father who also loves providing the ministry of pilgrimage to all who seek it.