The Hebrew Prophet was not merely a man enlightened by God to foretell events; he was the herald sent by the Lord to communicate His will and designs to Israel. The prophet is literally the mouthpiece of God. John the Baptist is the last prophet. After John, the Word of God was made Flesh in Jesus Christ. So what does God have to say to us through the lips of John?
John went through the whole region proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. “Prepare the Way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”
Notice that John does not say, make straight your paths; it’s His paths we need to make straight. How do His paths become crooked? They don’t unless we make them crooked by our sinfulness, carelessness, apathy or our impurity.
So how do we make the rough ways smooth?
During our time of stillness with God in prayer, we can use the Ten Commandments as a yardstick and examine our conscience. God can help me see what my true desires are in life and bring those desires to conversion so that my one desire is God alone.
If I am careless and commit sin without thinking, then I can adjust myself through self-discipline to be more conscious of what I say and do.
If I find myself lazy in my worship of God; if I find that I am not giving myself completely to the Ritual of the Church, that I have become rather passive to the hymns, responses or gestures; then again self-discipline in conforming myself to God’s Way will help keep me on the path of growth and maturity in the spiritual life.
If I find myself infected with lust, adultery or acts against chastity, these things can easily alienate me from true love and charity for others. Again, I place myself before God and discipline myself to become other centered rather than self-absorbed.
In order to receive mercy my friends, we need to ask for forgiveness and this can only be achieved on our knees in the silence of the confessional. With this singular act of humility we can authentically prepare the way of the Lord, making the winding roads straight and the rough ways smooth.
John the Baptist communicates the Will of God for any true disciple of Christ; by making straight His paths, shall we see the salvation of God.