By Sister Teresa Mary Dolan, MHSH
John the Baptist seems to focus my attention at mid-Advent celebrations with the stark reminder to clear the path for the coming of the Promised One – the one we all are awaiting. Take away the rubble, fill in the holes, cut down the brush and prepare your heart for his dwelling place.
Scripture tell us that pregnant Mary visited pregnant cousin Elizabeth, and “Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the babe in her womb leaped.” That was baby John dancing his joy at the coming of Jesus!
We meet him in Sunday’s gospel as a grown, mature, evangelizer preaching to the crowds who followed him to the wilderness, the Jordan, the desert, as he preached a Baptism of repentance. He calls them to prepare for the Messiah’s coming: to change their selfishness to sharing; their lending to giving; to change their hearts; to reform.
Why did John go to the desert? Why does anyone go to the desert? For solitude? To think about the deepest questions of life? To put one’s life in order? To listen and hear the Word of God? To clear a path for the Lord?
In every age the Holy Spirit leads people into the desert. At times they are hooded and robed like the early monks of the third century who went to escape the distractions of the world. But we have our own deserts today. How does the Spirit lead us into the desert today in this age of subways and back alleys, crowded malls and booming music, street crowds and congested traffic, computers, cell phones, texting and endless advertising?
We search for our place of quiet and with deep consciousness listen to the Word! The desert is where we become lover, companion, friend, helper, partner of all that is good and holy, all that is the image of the Word made flesh. This love within us will also transform us.
Let us pray:
Where I live, my home, where I work or spend time at the office, at the grocery store or mall, visiting the homebound or hospitalized, Lord take possession of my eyes, my tongue, my hands—
- So that all will be to your greater glory
I pray for that sad, tired lady I see on the bus, or in the supermarket and the small, quiet child with her. Lord, let my eyes gently look at them, give them a smile, my hands pick up her dropped glove–
- So that all will be for your greater glory
The tired old man in the nursing home and his weary wife sitting with him, let him hear my voice urging him to take another step and sit down –
- So that all will be for your greater glory.
These are our deserts, our missions, our ministries: the good people and the difficult personalities where I can put love and understanding, truth and compassion, for your greater glory. Help me Lord shape my heart so that I truly feel your love for them.
Go into your desert place, your place of stillness and quiet and write your own prayer. Make it fit the circumstances of your life. Watch how you will grow deeper into it and in this way prepare the way for the Lord’s coming.
It’s been said that Advent is the season of Christmas road works. We are to straighten out the obstacles on our own journey for a closer intimacy with the Lord. Can we recognize His presence with us in our brothers and sisters in the neighborhood, at work and in the family? Are we His Kingdom people?