The entire First Reading is an order from God in what to do to prepare for Him. “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God.” (Is 61:1-2a)
We have to believe in ourselves and surrender ourselves to His call and His will. Now we all know that our service is human, which means it is imperfect; we are going to stumble and fall at times. It is at those moments when God’s presence is stronger. It’s up to us to see Him and feel Him. It is up to us to get back up and trust in Him. Trusting and surrendering to Him leads to the Second Reading: “Brothers and sisters: Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil. May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.” (1Thes 5:16-24)
Now I know this is the entire Second Reading, but the entire reading gives us orders and direction. God tells us to trust His Advocate, the Holy Spirit. It is His Spirit that fills us and moves us. Our humanness puts us in situations where we may have to make tough decisions or discern where God wants us to go from there. That is where trusting in the Spirit and discernment comes in. Not only do we have to trust in the Spirit to make the right decision, but we have to trust that God will see us through completely, which leads to the Responsorial Psalm: “My soul rejoices in my God.” (Is 61:10b)
Such a short and simple statement by Isaiah but yet so powerful that Mary includes it in her Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55). Through it all, God has been with them both as He is with me and with all of us. God chooses each of us all the time despite our short comings. Sometimes we go through trials that we feel we cannot overcome. It may be hard to say “My soul rejoices in my God” during these times, but we need to remember that God will not abandon us. Whenever we go through these things we have to believe that God will see us through. “My soul rejoices in my God” is so powerful because of all He does for us and all He is to us. Thinking about His love for us, I’m sure that God rejoices in us, especially when we follow Him, which leads to the Gospel:I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord.” (Jn 1:23)
John the Baptist heard His call and prepared the way for the Lord. Before John was even born, he rejoiced and leapt in his mother’s womb at the coming of Jesus. John the Baptist trusted in God and continued to serve Him, turning non-believers into believers and tending to the flock. Yes, he may have died for God but he lived for God more so. God wants us to live for Him by doing what He asks.
With anticipation comes preparation. John the Baptist helped prepare the way of the Lord. Are you prepared for the birth of Jesus? Will you live for God by following His order and direction?