By Deacon William Fitzpatrick

On this second Sunday of Advent, John cries out that in order to prepare the way of the Lord, “every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low.” But what exactly does that mean for all of us, as we wait for the celebration of the birth of our Lord?

In order to truly immerse ourselves into Advent, we need to identify those valleys and mountains that stand in the way of preparing our hearts for Christ. We need to ask ourselves, what are the valleys and mountains that are in our lives that make it harder for us to celebrate Advent? What is standing in the way for us to truly open ourselves to Christ?

Do we find ourselves in a valley of sadness or hurt from Christmases past? Are we in a low place because we can’t forgive others or we find that we can’t forgive ourselves? This Advent, we need to ask ourselves if we indeed are in these “valleys” of life; if the road we travel brings us down into these places. If the answer is yes, then we are called to rise up from these valleys. If we can’t do it alone, then we need to ask others for direction. When we start to fill in these valleys with forgiveness and peace, Advent will have a much different meaning to us this year.

Maybe we find mountains blocking our way to Christ. Things that we feel are insurmountable. Pain, suffering or the loss of a loved one can all be mountains that we feel we can never get over. If we find these mountains of sorrow ahead of us, use this Advent season to make the first step to get above these roadblocks. If by Christmas we’re not to the top, we’re still closer than when we started out! Closer to Christ and what he brings to the world.

So, one full week of Advent has already passed. One more candle of the Advent Wreath has been lit. Hopefully this Advent season will continually remind us of how we are called to make changes in our lives, to make straight the path of the Lord. Let’s take this second week of Advent to ask ourselves this question: What changes must I make within me during this holy season, which will make me a herald of Christ in the world today?

Deacon Fitzpatrick serves in ministry at St. James Parish in Johnson City and is the Manager of Pastoral Care at United Health Services Hospitals in Binghamton.

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