Preparing the way of the Lord

Barb Arland-Fye
Week 3 of Advent begins this Sunday, Dec. 13.

By Mary Jacobsen
For The Catholic Messenger

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear the story of John the Baptist, the beloved cousin of Jesus Christ, fulfilling his duty as one “sent from God” to “make straight the way of the Lord.” Many flocked to see him and to ask if he was the Christ. Of course, he says no; he has been sent by God to prepare the world for the Messiah by baptizing and preaching.

Oftentimes when I hear this reading, I think of the musical “Godspell,” and one of its opening numbers, “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.” The character of John the Baptist acclaims the song to the whole city and people come running to him, singing and dancing together before going into the fountain at the park — their baptism with water. When Jesus arrives at the end of the scene, everyone happily throws away their goods with childlike glee as they go to follow him.


It is a truly beautiful scene showing what it is like to wait for the Lord, preparing for him with such joy and anticipation. The people do what they can as they wait for the coming of the Messiah. John the Baptist helps by baptizing them with water, a preparation for the baptism Christ will give when he comes – a baptism with the Holy Spirit. The people are excited as they anxiously await the coming of Christ.

How do we “prepare the way of the Lord?” How do we “make straight his path?” We don’t need to go as far as John the Baptist, who lived in the desert eating locusts and honey. We don’t need to throw away everything we own as Jesus’ disciples did.

There is still so much more we can do. Our baptism prepares us for this long journey of preparing for Christ. With the gifts of the Holy Spirit we receive at baptism, and with the love and mercy of God on our side, we can spread the good news to everyone around us.

Our actions and words matter. Are we spreading the good news, and are we preparing the way of the Lord for others by what we do and say? Are we spreading the same childlike glee to others as we await the triumphant return of the Lord, the same excitement a child has as she or he awaits the arrival of gifts from Santa Claus?

The way we treat others matters. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are to look upon one another as another self, as the Catechism tells us. Do we treat others in that way? Do we love one another as Christ commands us?

The way we treat ourselves matters. Are you making sure you are looking out for yourself and treating yourself with the kindness and respect you deserve? This can be hard to do in these stressful times, when it seems like we are in a constant rush. Taking time to breathe and having self-care is important.

The way we handle our relationship with God matters. In these busy times, it can seem difficult to take time out of our schedule to talk to God. However, God is always waiting, and God always has time for us. Even if it is just for a few minutes, these times with God can strengthen our relationship and thus help us on our quest of preparing the way of the Lord.

Advent is a reminder to us that we are in a constant season of waiting and preparing. How are you preparing the way of the Lord in your own life?

(Mary Jacobsen is recent graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport (December ’20), and a parishioner at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.)

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Waiting is hard in an instant gratification culture


By Lindsay Steele

Advent is a time of waiting.

Anne Marie Amacher
Lindsay Steele stands next to a grandfather clock, whose arms are perpetually stuck at 11:56, at St. Vincent Center in Davenport Dec. 11. In her column, Steele discusses her personal battle with impatience and why the Advent season offers an opportunity to reflect on the need to wait with grace.

Most people don’t really like to wait. I recently read an anonymous reflection on that said, “Waiting is not something we normally celebrate; we like to have things instantly.”

My generation in particular has been accused of living in an instant gratification culture. At a recent young adult seminar at St. Patrick Church in Iowa City, the crowd erupted with laughter when Veruca Salt’s image appeared on the PowerPoint slide. “Don’t care how, I want it now,” the caption read.

I believe we laughed because, at our core, we hate having to wait for what we want.

We get annoyed when someone doesn’t text us back right away. We get annoyed by a red traffic light, whether we are running late or not. We are annoyed when a friend shows up 10 minutes late for a lunch date.

Well, maybe some people have the patience not to be bothered by such things, but regrettably I am not one of them. I have never been known for my patience.

I recall being a child and waiting for Christmas morning. Oh, how the days dragged on while the neatly wrapped gifts sat beneath the tree, seeming to mock me.

I remember waking up every hour, on-the-hour as Christmas morning slowly approached. At 6 a.m., I’d wake my parents, but they’d remind me that we couldn’t open presents until my sister awoke. Much to my dismay, no amount of “accidental” noise making seemed to wake her from her slumber.

Not much has changed since then, unfortunately. Even here in the office, I notice myself doodling or squirming in my chair if staff meetings run a little long.

I’m sure God knows that waiting is hard. Maybe that’s why four weeks every year — Advent — are dedicated to waiting and the virtue of patience.

I am beginning to realize that waiting with grace is important, perhaps because it is hard to be joyful with an impatient spirit. What I’ve learned over the years is that the time I spend being upset or anxious about waiting is not spent in the present moment. I recall going to California with college friends just after graduation. I was so upset about leaving behind my boyfriend at the time that I spent most of the trip calling him or being upset that it wasn’t time to go home yet. I even considered leaving early. I remember so little of that trip and regret that now. I could have had a lot of fun and built lifelong memories. My friends’ patience is a little better than mine — despite my faux pas, we’re still close.

Especially now, as my husband and I wait for God to (hopefully) bless us with children, I must remember to stay in the present and wait with grace. So often I say that we hope to start a family, but the truth is we do have a family right now — each other, our pets and our extended families. If I spend all my time being bitter about my infertility issues and anxious about the months that pass as we explore our permissible options, I won’t be able to be present and enjoy what I have right now. We could be waiting for years; I’d be wise to live them with a sense of gratitude.

I do not have the anecdote for an impatient spirit, though certainly I’d make a great test subject. Still, in the spirit of Advent, I feel challenged to give a healthy dose of patience a try.

(Editor’s note: Lindsay Steele is a reporter for The Catholic Messenger. Contact her at or by phone at (563) 888-4248.)

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