Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hear His voice

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This is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him
to ask him, "Who are you?"
He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted,
"I am not the Christ."
So they asked him,
"What are you then? Are you Elijah?"
And he said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?"
He answered, "No."
So they said to him,
"Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?"
He said:
"I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
'Make straight the way of the Lord,'
as Isaiah the prophet said."
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
"Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?"
John answered them,
"I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

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On Monday we heard proclaimed from the Gospel of John the identity of St. John the Baptist. John made his appearance as a preacher in the desert of Judea. I was in the Judean desert a couple of years ago and it was one of the most powerful places I have ever visited. It’s something about the beauty, but also the starkness of that desert.

What is it about deserts in the Scriptures? 

Moses spends years in the desert before taking up his work. Elijah sojourns in a deserted place at a crisis point in his ministry. Of course, the Israelites have to pass through the desert forty years on the way to the Promised Land. Jesus himself spends forty days and nights in the desert before beginning his public work. And, of course, at the beginning of the Christian movement, monks sequestered themselves in caves and primitive shelters in the desert. 

 What is it about deserts? 

Well, deserts are places of simplicity and poverty. Everything is stripped down to the basics. Places where distraction and attachments are eliminated. And both of these are important. Because only when you eliminate distractions and attachments can you hear the voice of God.