John the Baptist in today’s readings tells us to prepare for the coming of Christ. But how do we prepare? What does it mean to “get ready”? The readings for today give us a clue.
In Advent, we can seek both justice and peace. Peace is a good; we all can appreciate the beautiful image of the lion laying down with a lamb, and a child who is safe around a viper. But justice and truth are just as important. Without truth, there can be no true peace, because trust is built upon truth. Without fairness and justice in human relationships, we can’t have a genuine peace, because otherwise the peace is merely the silence of those who are disempowered, and allowing those who rule unjustly or act badly to continue in their bad behavior. So to seek peace also means to seek justice. Each of us can reflect on how to do that in our own lives and our own worlds over Advent, from where we are situated in this world.
We can also tell when we are going in the right direction with our lives, because as John the Baptist tells us, it will “bear fruit.” When our choices lead to good outcomes for others, and bring happiness and peace, a sense of genuine tranquility in our hearts, then we know that these actions are good. When our choices lead to disturbance, unhappiness in relationships, or a lack of fairness/ equity/ justice, or a lack of peace, then we are off track and need to get back on track again.
Advent, thankfully, gives us that time to discern in our hearts what the right path is to take, and how to seek God’s love , peace, and justice in this world through our own small but significant actions.