The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah: ‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mk 1: 1-5) So, John the Baptist “prepares the way of the Lord” by proclaiming “a baptism of repentance,” that is, of “metanoia” (change of mind or change of focus). The people are being prepared for the “new,” for the One who, as John testifies, “is more powerful” than John himself (Mk 1:7), by unburdening themselves of the “old” through confessing their sins. As I prepare for the appearance of the Lord in the great feast ahead, be it His birth in Bethlehem (for those of us on the Older Calendar, who are still following the star), or His coming to the river Jordan to be baptized for His earthly ministry (for those who now prepare for Theophany), let me hear “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” Let me refocus today, once again, unburdening myself of the “old” and embracing the “new” opening up before me, in the ever-new, ever-surprising Person of my Lord Jesus Christ. Let me confess my sins, handing them over to the One who comes to “take away the sin of the world,” (Jn 1: 29) removing the roadblocks to my relationship with Him, with myself, and others. Today let me let Him “make His paths straight” in me. Amen.

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