In the days of John the Baptist, of whom Mark writes in today’s Gospel, whenever a V.I.P. announced a visit to a town or region, legions of workers would prepare the way by clearing rocks from the road, removing brush and debris, and filling in the ruts so that the V.I.P.’s travel would be expeditious, safe, and comfortable.

This metaphor for “the way of the Lord” of which Mark speaks requires even more arduous preparation and effort.

So, how should/do we prepare the “way of the Lord?” We remove the rocks of obstinacy, smooth the paths of resistance, make straight the deviance of guilt and sin. We are expected and empowered to do this because we have been baptized in the Spirit of Jesus who teaches and models for us how to live righteously as He did.

John the Baptist is talking not about our failures, but more about living in the Spirit, which enables us to overcome the boulders that impeded the path of holy living and the missteps that turn us away from the path of peace and righteousness.

If we think about it, we pray about it, we may discover little ways we could love God and our neighbors more. Mark and John are talking simply and directly about preparing our hearts for the coming of the Christ, the Son of God.