Advent 2023

Prepare the Way of the Lord

Posted : Dec-09-2023

The following is a reflection on the Gospel for Sunday, December 10, 2023, Week 2 of Advent (Mark 1:1-8) from Bishop Robert Kasun, Central Region Bishop for the Archdiocese of Toronto. To watch a video version of this reflection, visit our YouTube channel.


Hello everyone and welcome to the Archdiocese of Toronto Advent reflection for the second week of the Advent season.

This year, I hope you won’t feel short-changed, but Advent really is only three weeks plus one day. So the fourth Sunday of Advent is the 24th of December – we only get a total of three weeks plus one day. We need, of course, to get cracking when it comes to preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

Today’s gospel we see John the Baptist. He looms large in today’s Gospel. We can picture him, in the wilderness wearing camel-hair clothing with a leather belt. He probably wasn’t following the latest fashion of ancient Israel, but he would have grabbed the people’s attention by the setting: in the wilderness, and with the camel-hair clothing. I’m sure it was uncomfortable. And John the Baptist’s message is very clear, it is, “prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.” That is abundantly clear. That is the message for today.

“Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths clear.”

It is an extension of last week’s message from the Lord. The first Sunday of Advent had the message: keep awake; be on guard; be on the alert; be attentive; be aware of the ways in which Jesus Christ is attempting to break into our world. After all, Jesus has already come and the work of redemption has not yet been completed. There still is a lot of evil in the world. But Christ finds ways to break into our world with our help and in that way the word slowly transforms us.

Today, John the Baptist says, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” How do we do that?

There are many ways in which we can do that, but I would like to highlight three of them. The first way in which we prepare the way of the Lord is to confess our sins. John the Baptist was baptizing in the Jordan river, inviting people to repentance: to confess their sins, and to express their sorrow for these sins and their desire to amend their ways. We too are invited during the Advent season to offer our confession. Recall that confession on its own is not the same thing as reconciliation because reconciliation means that we bring about, with God’s grace, peace in our relationship with both God and neighbour. After confession, or perhaps even before it, if there is any mending of human relationships that needs to occur, we are not fully reconciled until we make the greatest possible effort we can on our part to straighten out our relationships. Therefore, we are given the great gift of peace. The great gift of the coming of the Messiah at Christmastime.

Another way in which we can make straight the way of the Lord, in other words to prepare for the coming of Christ, is to ponder the words of sacred scripture. When we do so we open our minds and hearts to that powerful word that can transform us. One way about how pondering the sacred scripture is to take the first readings from the daily Masses for the season of Advent. Many of those first readings are from the book of the prophet Isaiah, written several hundred years before the coming of Christ. It is a pointing-ahead. We call it a prophecy or a foreshadowing of the coming of the Messiah. And the writer of the book of Isaiah describes the coming of the Messiah as a beautiful occurrence. Restoration will occur in people and in the society in which they live. We are invited to join with Isaiah and countless peoples throughout the ages in cultivating our yearning; our longing for the coming of Christ and to bring us the gift of peace amidst our restored relationships.

A third way to make straight the path of the Lord is to surrender ourselves. This idea comes from the great Jesuit Suscipe prayer. An important prayer in Jesuit spirituality. Suscipe: I’m offering myself; surrendering my will to the will of God. And so, in our Christian life of discipleship we are asked to distinguish as best we can, the difference between our own will and that of the Father.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will, All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.

- Suscipe, St. Ignatius of Loyola, 1941-1556

And it is life lived in obedience to the will of the Father that we find our happiness and peace. I have experienced this in my own life and perhaps you have too. Often, my will is that which is self-centered or selfish. It keeps me focused within myself, whereas we all know we find our happiness and our well-being when we turn our focus of our interests outside toward other people. That is a fundamental difference between our own will and the will of the Father in heaven. One is turned inward; the other is turned outward. And we can discern the will of God through the sacred scripture and the teaching of the Church. Or perhaps also, with the help of a spiritual advisor: someone who accompanies us on the life’s journey.

To conclude, during this second week of Advent I invite us all to pay head to the message of John the Baptist: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Get rid of the obstacles, straighten out the road. We do that by offering our confession of sins, by our pondering of sacred scripture, and the surrender of our lives completely to the will of the father.

To everyone, best wishes for a happy Advent and a joyful Christmas season.

Robert Kasun was born on December 20, 1951 and raised in Cudworth, Saskatchewan, in the former Benedictine Abbacy of Muenster. After high school he attended St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon, where he met the Basilian Fathers, the religious congregation he joined after graduating with a Bachelor's degree in English. Following his novitiate he continued his studies, earning a Master of Divinity from the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto, and then Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education from the University of Toronto. 

Following ordination to the priesthood in 1978, Father Kasun commenced his teaching ministry in Basilian schools in Merrillville, Indiana; Sudbury, Ontario; and his longest assignment, at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto. He also served as Vocations Director for the Basilian Fathers based in Rochester, New York, and as a teacher at St. Francis High School in Calgary. He served on the General Council of the Basilian Fathers from 1989 to 1997 as Regional Representative for Western Canada, and as Vice-President of the Canadian Religious Conference Western Division.

Bishop Kasun was appointed as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto on June 17, 2016. His episcopal ordination was held September 12, 2016 at St. Joseph Basilica Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Edmonton.


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