When the prophet of the Babylonian Exile whose words are found in Isaiah 40 spoke the words cited here by Matthew, he was calling the people in exile to herald the impending advent of the Lord who would cross the wilderness between Israel and Babylon in order to take the Lord’s people home. “Make things ready, make your lives ready,” the prophet said, “because the Lord is coming to take you home!”
John the Baptist cried out in the wilderness; it was the wilderness of Judea in which he preached but he was still heralding the coming of the Lord, he was still imploring people to make their lives ready for the Lord who would come to make the Lord’s home with them.
O God, we praise you that in Jesus Christ your Son you came to make your home with us; we praise you that in Jesus Christ your Son you came to enable us to make our home with you.
O God, forgive us for our sometime willingness to live as if we are still on the far side of the wilderness, to live as if you have not crossed that wilderness to enable us to live in communion with you.
O God, help us in the ways that we act, talk, think, and feel always to be aware of and to respond to your grace so that in, with, and through you we always keep the way prepared and the paths straight.
“This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’” (Matthew 3:3).