During Advent, a lot of voices are mentioned in the Scripture readings and hymns: “Hark! The herald voice is sounding!”; “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘prepare ye the way of the Lord’”; “I will hear what the Lord has to say, a voice that speaks of peace”; etc..
The thing about a voice is that without breath and meaning, it is just an organ of the body. But once it is combined with breath and meaning, it can command nations, reveal sublime truths, incite terror, trick into sin, communicate love, sing the praises of God.
In today’s readings for the Mass, there are two voices mentioned. In the psalm, there is the “voice which speaks of peace”, the Lord’s voice. In the Gospel, there is the voice which cries “prepare the way of the Lord” and “repent.” These two voices are in fact one. John does not speak of himself, but is sent by the Lord. The Lord’s message of peace only will be heard if we prepare our hearts for Him by repenting of our sins. Peace is the fruit of repentance.
Many want to hear the voice of peace, but not the voice of repentance. In that case, however, the peace would be fake. We want peace without repentance. Other voices around today proclaim peace to everyone as they proclaim that there is no sin and hence no need for repentance. These are the voices which echo the seductive voice of the tempter in Eden. And seductive they are! They sound so easy, so reasonable, so sweet, so appealing to the selfish self. They promise a God-less peace, without the bother of repentance, the embarrassment of confession, the humiliation of having to depend on God. They want the voice of God to fall silent, to be dumb.
These voices are particularly active and loud during seasons like Lent and Advent, because they know that the divine voice of peace is all the stronger, all the more persuasive and all the more urgent in calling us to repentance at these times. They can easily drown out the voice of the Baptist and of the Lord of the Baptist.
But we must listen to the voice of God. He speaks deeply within and to our conscience. He accuses us, yes, of our sins in that inner sanctuary, but only so that we would lift our voices in confession and repentance and so hear in response His voice of peace. So, listen for His voice. Heed no other. Fine tune your spiritual ears to the Voice of God.