“Straight” is the word that stands out in today’s gospel, when John the Baptist sums his mission by explaining that he is the voice of one crying out in the desert: “Make straight the way of the Lord.” 

What does it mean to make “straight”? 

This word for straight (euthunó) appears only twice in the New Testament. The next time it appears is in James 3:4 when teachers are described as pilots (euthunó) who steer massive ships with small rudders. 

John the Baptist is talking about direction. He is urging us to make a straight path that leads directly to the heart of God. 

But how? 

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains that making straight the way of the Lord “calls for inner conversion” and to “make a sincere examination of our life” (Angelus, 4 December 2011). Making a straight way for the Lord begins with our willingness to stop sinning and to start turning the rudder of our soul toward Christ. 

But sometimes, when we feel like a ship lost and tossed on rough waters in the darkness, it seems as if turning our lives around and making a straight path for Christ is impossible. That’s the hour to turn to Mary. 

One of her most ancient titles is Our Lady Star of the Sea. She is like a star that sailors watch so that they can steer the rudder of their ship in a straight direction through the darkness of night. We must let her be our guiding star. We must ask her to give us inner conversion. We must ask her to help us make a sincere examination of our life. We must ask her to make straight the way for her Son to enter into our heart and show us the way to the harbor of heaven.