“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; Make his paths straight.’ John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.” (Mk 1: 1-4)
St. John the Baptist “prepares the way of the Lord”; He clears the “paths” or makes them “straight” for the One Who is coming, Jesus Christ. The “way” and the “paths” being talked about here are found in people’s hearts. They are cluttered with “sin” that is a loss of focus, because sin, ἁμαρτία, literally means “missing the point.” John calls the people to change focus, to “repent,” and clear away the clutter of their sins by confessing them. By cleaning house in this way, by unburdening themselves of their sins, the people are made ready to hear the “gospel” or “good news” that is coming.
So everything begins with “the baptism of repentance,” with a change of focus. This is a “baptism” to which I am called every day, because I lose focus, but also make a new beginning, every day. Let me keep watch over the “paths” that need to be kept straight in my heart, so that the Lord’s voice can reach me. Let me maintain a humble openness to myself, to other human beings, and to Christ’s voice in my life, by confessing my sins on a regular basis.
This Monday, as I begin my work-week, let me be open, in humble watchfulness, to the One Who is coming. He comes, bringing me change and growth every day, when I “make His paths straight” to the best of my ability.