Sisters and Brothers! As Christians we don’t keep a cup for Elijah because John the Baptist stepped into that mission of introducing the promised Messiah to the people of God. It was John the Baptist who cried out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight!’ Did he mean roadworks? If it were the case one could think that those who work on the Monash Freeway took it seriously, because they keep upgrading it all the time. It never ends. If we can take something from their example it is that our preparing the way for the Lord never ends either. We will never say that we can retire from helping people to embrace Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, as their Lord and Saviour as well. If the way between them and Jesus is full of obstacles we have our duty to remove them, like John the Baptist, Elijah or Isaiah did. If the way between Jesus and them looks like an endless detour our duty is to find a shortcut like John the Baptist, Elijah or Isaiah did.
St. Eugene de Mazenod was a person who did it wholeheartedly. Yes, he was a priest and missionary who never stopped searching for the ways to connect God with people, particularly those who were far away from God. When he was a bishop in Marseilles he was available to all. In his waiting room one could see top civil officials, the local aristocracy, prominent businessmen and women but also fish sellers from the Marseilles Port, orphans and the homeless. In the waiting room of the Bishop of Marseilles everyone was equal. Bishop Eugene however wasn’t satisfied with being available to people coming to see him. If you visited Marseilles during his time most likely you would meet him walking through the slums to give the last rites to a dying woman who had no one to look after her. You will see his Lordship at the fish market talking to everyone who wanted to talk to him. But Eugene wasn’t born with a Bible in his hand and a mitre on his head. For twenty seven years he was a layman and as a layman he realised his call of ‘preparing the way for the Lord.’ In his mid-twenties while on a business trip from Paris to his home town of Aix in the Southern France he met a young man he was travelling to join the army. The young officer was however worried that he could lose his faith in such a hostile environment. Eugene offered his friendship to him to support him. He remained faithful to that friendship until the death of that man many years later. The officer remained faithful to Christ until his death.
I think that each one of us should have a cup full of wine at home. Not for Elijah but as a reminder that we are Advent men or Advent women, like St Eugene de Mazenod was. Such people are happily convinced that in the midst of various duties and responsibilities they can connect people with Jesus, that they can ‘prepare the way for the Lord.’