(Today’s reflection is offered by parishioner Chris Hannan.)
For two weeks we’ve been turning inward trying to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Christ. In our busy lives it becomes easy to wander out into a desert of our own making. Dry, lifeless times where we’re so busy, that thinking about prayer seems like just another job to cross off the list. Times when being so connected by electronics leaves no time for real friends, real people, so we are parched with loneliness even in a crowd of hundreds of ‘friends’. A desert is also full of abrasive sands, like the constant flurry of messages that try to convince us that if we accumulate more, or change our looks, we’ll be happy. A desert is full of shifting sands, sending us in directions we hadn’t thought of going.
Enter John the Baptist, telling us to make straight the way of the Lord. He’s the voice you hear in your head and heart when you know you’ve wandered too far. He’s the voice you hear when you’re so tired from too many job activities and responsibilities, too many school functions, too many volunteer jobs, too much of anything and everything. He’s telling you to come out of the desert, make space and time for the God who loves you more than your wildest imaginings. Make time and space for the gift of love from those God has given you. Make time and space to love in return and more importantly when it’s not returned.
Sounds good, but how can we leave this desert? Paul gives some very practical advice. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Be grateful. Be open to the surprises of the Spirit. Retain what is good, don’t do what is evil. Isaiah tells us that with the Spirit of God upon him he can do great things. Isaiah and Paul both remind us of the joy that focusing on a right relationship with God brings. Rejoice!
“But, I’m too busy. I have to do this, that and the other everything.” Have to or want to? Could we be hiding out in this desert of our own making? Or is this just another way you and I try to control a world that seems to be spinning out of control? John knew enough to say it’s not me. He knew he wasn’t in control, he wasn’t the Christ. It’s really hard and really scary to think about, but do we have the faith of the Baptist to say ‘it’s not me’. Can we leave the desert? Come, Lord Jesus.