Advent is a time of joyful anticipation. It is time, the prophet Baruch says, “to take off your robe of mourning and misery,” for God is leading his people “with his mercy and justice for company.” God’s people “are wrapped in the cloak of justice from God,” and they “will be named by God forever the peace of justice.”
Paul, too, speaks of joyful anticipation, of waiting for “the day of Christ Jesus.” He encourages the Philippians to grow in “love, understanding, wealth of experience, clear conscience, and blameless conduct,” and he concludes with a wish: “that you may be found rich in the harvest of justice which Jesus Christ has ripened in you.”
The message of John the Baptist is to prepare the way for the coming of Christ, to make straight the windings and to make smooth the rough ways.
We need a “baptism of repentance,” a cleansing from the old ways of “greed and darkness” and a commitment to a new way of living. We need to challenge the wisdom of the world in the way it was challenged by that prophet in the desert.
While we are warned that it profits a man nothing if he gain the whole world and lose himself, the expectation of a new earth must not weaken but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one. For here grows the body of a new human family, a body which even now is able to give some kind of foreshadowing of the new age.
Vatican II, Constitution on the Church
in the Modern World, 1965: 39