He probably looked like someone from the cast of Hair or a hippie.
He lived in the wild in the desert of Judea.
He wore clothing made of camel’s hair, which I’m sure was – um — uncomfortable in the desert’s heat. (He was probably pretty stinky.)
His scrumptious diet locusts and wild honey. (yuck!)
His message was: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!”
(Yeah, I know. I’ve heard that message a zillion times.)
In our – um – respectable Sunday assemblies, he would probably be looked upon with scorn; he was certainly not the kind of guy we would expect to be the Advance Man for the Son of God. But that’s what he was. (And we better pay attention to his message – which we’ll do this week – because it is critical for our own times.)
He was Jesus’ cousin, born only a few months before the Lord. The pair may have played together as kids. And John, must have gotten to know Jesus well enough to perceive what his role would be in history. As a result, he preached with exuberance and passion and sometimes with fury. He raged at many of the Pharisees and Sadducees: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (And I’m sure they seethed and were out to get him.
He spoke fearlessly, unafraid of what the hypocritical religious leaders might do to him. Eventually Herod had him imprisoned and Herodias demanded his head on a platter.
John was a prophet . . .
A voice crying out in the wilderness
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
The Christmas message is that Love has entered the world.
As we enter this second week of Advent, let’s ask ourselves:
How can I prepare the way for the Lord (or Love)
at the office,
in my neighborhood,
in our country,
in our politics,
in our world — this week?
God’s message to us in the Christmas story is Love.
That’s why he was born, entering our world as a vulnerable baby.
And that’s why he died – vulnerable / bound / nailed –
because the Father wanted us to have evidence that he loved us.
And in turn, his message is . . .
Love one another as I have loved you.
Right now, there’s a lot of hatred going around.
There are hate groups all over our country. Over 900 documented armed hate groups.
Our country could be in flames. All it might take is a spark to set it off.
People I know are seething that a Black man is president.
And then there’s hatred toward Muslims. I have Muslim friends. They are devout and wonderful people.
There’s hatred toward gay people. I have gay friends. And they’re as decent and often as devout as those who sit in the front pews of our churches.
We have lots of need to repent.
What do you do, dear reader?
Is there hatred or love in your heart?
If we hate even one person, we cause hate to have its sway anywhere.
And the opposite is true as well — if we love one sacrificially, love enters the world in a powerful waay.
Do you spread hate and incivility?
Or love and “random acts of kindness?
AA has us take “Personal Inventory of ourselves.”
Let’s stop blaming others for what’s wrong and realize and repent of our own responsibility.
Let’s do it this week — this second week of Advent,
And then we will truly have a beautiful / meaningful /joyful / authentic Christmas celebration.
We don’t need all the frenzied shopping or giving frivolous, expensive gifts.
Celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah by being kinder, more gentle and cheerful.
Hold doors open for the folks behind you upon entering a store.
And, as I said yesterday, think about and pray about reconciling with a friend you’re at odds with. Smooth out hurt feelings. Give somebody – anybody – the gift of your presence rather than presents.
Yesterday, as I was taking my groceries to the car I smiled at an older woman who was poorly dressed and who seemed troubled. Her name was Sylvia, an immigrant from one of the islands. She called after me and I took the time to listen to her, thereby allowing her to be recognized as a person, if just for a moment. I prayed that God would send her an angel to help with some serious problems. She said to me: “You are my angel!” Perhaps I was. Perhaps I was the instrument of grace to turn her life around. You never know.
Your children don’t need lots of stuff or this crazy rodent that won’t shut up that every kid in the universe wants (or so they would have us believe.) For one thing, you need more silence in your house, not more noise! (We’ll get to the need for silence in our lives in a few days.)
Don’t let the merchants rob us think about preparing to receive the grace of the sacrament of penance; it’s still a wonderful way to honor your Lord and Savior at his birthday.)
And now, here’s my personal prayer on this Second Sunday of Advent:
You have allowed me, your priest/servant the grace
to prepare the way for You in the lives on many people over forty years–
children / octogenarians / homeless / imprisoned / dying /
grieving / celebrating / becoming Catholic / non-believers /
gay / parishioners / mentally ill / neighbors / friends / strangers.
What an honor and privilege!
Thank you, Lord for that awesome grace!
And please forgive me and heal the hurt of anyone whom I have turned away from You by my failures and sins.
I remember and pray for so many of them today.
I am eager to continue doing so in my writing. Guide my pen (my cursor), Lord.
And what a joy it would be if those whose lives I have touched in written word or in person realize they, too, can prepare the way for you in our troubled world.
Come, Lord Jesus!
Now, listen and watch Prepare the way of the Lord from Godspell. (Get a chuckle out of Jesus 1973 ‘Fro.)
This week we’ll reflect on what Jesus’ wild and wooly advance man has to say to us and our times. You might want to look up the following scripture references over the next week if you have time: (Matthew 3:1-17 / 14:1-12 // Mark 1:1-8. // Luke 1: 39-45 / 1:57 – 80 // 3:1-20 / 7:18-35 // John 1:15-34 / 3:22-30
priest / writer