“Comfort, comfort my people, says God. Speak, priests, to the heart of Jerusalem; comfort her, for her humiliation is accomplished, her sin is put away… The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: and all the crooked ways shall become straight, and the rough places plains. And the glory of the Lord shall appear, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God: for the Lord has spoken it.” (Is 40: 1-5, Septuagint-translation)
This prophecy about St. John the Baptist’s “voice” or “message” talks about some kind of great leveling of the earth: Valleys shall be filled, hills will be lowered, the crooked will become straight, and so on. And all this is connected, somehow, to “all flesh seeing the salvation of God,” when the glory of the Lord “appears.” What is the prophet talking about?
The “appearance” of Christ in my life, when I let Him into the picture, levels out or stabilizes, if you will, my ups and my downs, because God changes my perspective. The “comfort” of which the prophet speaks at the beginning of this passage is the grace of the Holy Spirit, our Great Comforter, Who shares with us His capacities for humble acceptance, gratitude, truth, love, faith, and wisdom. He replaces our drama with His peace; our escapism with His courage; our anxiety with His faith; our dishonesty with His truth. I let Him do that today, as those of us on the Older Calendar prepare for the Lord’s “appearance” in Bethlehem, and our “New”-Calendar friends get ready to celebrate His other “appearance,” at the River Jordan. “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22: 20), and set us straight again.