Make Straight the Paths

Following Great Vespers for the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, Fr. Matthew Howell preaches about the Old Testament reading from Isaiah which says, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight the paths for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). Fr. Matthew says that we all have a savage wilderness in our heart that needs to be straightened out so that we can follow the narrow path that leads to God.

The Reading from the Prophecy of Isaiah. (40:1-5, 9; 41:17-18; 45:8; 48:20-21; 54:1)

Thus saith the Lord: Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith God. Speak, ye priests, unto the heart of Jerusalem; comfort her, for her humiliation is at an end, because her sin is pardoned, for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for her sins. The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight the paths for our God. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and all the crooked ways shall become straight, and the rough ways shall become smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Get thee up into a high mountain, thou that bringest good tidings to Sion; lift up thy voice with strength, thou that bringest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift it up, be not afraid; I am the Lord God, I, the God of Israel, will hearken and will not forsake them, but will open rivers on the mountains and fountains in the midst of the plains. I will turn the wilderness into meadow and the thirsty land into water-courses. Let heaven above rejoice and let the clouds sprinkle down righteousness; let the earth shine and let mercy sprout forth and let righteousness dawn forth together. With a voice of gladness declare ye, and let it be heard; declare it even to the end of the earth, say ye: The Lord hath redeemed His servant Jacob. And if they thirst, He shall lead them through the wilderness, He shall bring forth water out of the rock for them. Rejoice, O barren one, thou that bearest not, break forth and cry aloud, thou that travailest not; for more are the children of the desolate than of her which hath a husband.