The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way;
The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.’”
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Studying this gospel with a group of friends this summer, I was struck by the phrase “make ready the way of the Lord.” I wonder what people thought when they read this passage centuries ago? A person preparing the way for a Messiah would surely do so in the big city. The wilderness isn’t where I would have expected God to plant His messenger.
And yet there we find John, making the paths of the Lord straight. But he isn’t building roads to Rome or plowing up the Judean countryside. Instead, he’s preaching a baptism of repentance. That road can lead only one way … straight to the hearts of his listeners.
I think we, too, as parents, carry the same calling on our lives. The parable of the Sower sheds more light on the subject. From Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23 …
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear…
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
If the way of the Lord is one that goes to the heart, and Jesus, the Sower, is scattering seed, then we as parents have the responsibility of preparing the soil that seed is falling on. Will our children be hard ground along the path, with no ability to understand the Word? Will there be rocks in the way of the good news, leaving our children shallow and without roots? Will the worries of life, the belief that money is everything, choke the Word of God in their lives?
May we all pray for grace and wisdom as we do the work of gardeners, patiently weeding, removing rocks, and speaking truth into my children’s lives, that we too may fulfill the call to make ready the way of the Lord.