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Continuing the Advent Journey
"a voice of one crying out in the desert"
As the Advent Season continues to march ahead in joyful anticipation of the birth of Christ we are introduced in this week's readings to John the Baptist, the prophet of all prophets, he who Jesus held in the highest of esteem and our true bridge from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
Son of Zechariah the priest, John followed in the tradition of the family business, however his methodology and subsequent preparation was a far cry from that of his father, who favored solemn temple observances and other more traditional observances. John partook of long desert fasts, subsisting on locusts and wild honey while engaging in marathon prayer sessions during which he sought a lucent understanding of God's enduring and unfaltering love for His people. There were no Starbucks Caramel Macchiatos, no App-laden I-Phones and certainly no Reality TV Programs to serve as comfort and/or diversion - just John and the abiding voice of God to direct him coupled with his zeal and unrelenting passion for simply spreading God's love.
He implored his followers and soon-to-be disciples to repent, a true"voice of one crying out in the desert" (Luke 3:4). Nowadays we often hear of the need to create a "sense of urgency", whether it be in our political leaders' desire to avert a "fiscal cliff", a football team that's trailing by a few touchdowns in the waning minutes of a critical late season contest or pehaps even a Project that isrunning woefully behind schedule and over budget. In keeping with this year's definitive Advent Theme, John sought to create this sense of urgency among his followers, reminding them again and again of his underlying and steadfast message,the kingdom of God is at hand. Our need to prepare, "repent and believe the good news" has never been greater.
The prophet Baruch checks in during the 1st Reading, faced with a reactionary flock who feared change and yearned for a return to the ways of old prior to their lengthy Babylonian exile. How many of us are willing to eschew our "robes of mourning and misery" for an opportunity to partake in the "splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God" (Baruch 5:1-9....give or take). As we all know, change which requires a leap of faith is not for the faint of heart, yet the reward that awaits the faithful could in turn be beyond imagination.
So how do we determine what is really important, particularly during a Season in which the cornerstone belief of the Catholic Church (Jesus as Savior) runs neck-and-neck with a never-ending commercial blitz, one in which the latest "must-have" handhelds, devices and other miscellaneous contrivances are feverishly unwrapped to the unmitigated joy of its young pajama-clad recipient and shiny luxury automobiles with colossal red bows riveted audaciously to their roof sit in the snow-dotted suburban driveway outside?
Perhaps a search for simplicity might be in order this Christmas Season, one in which we balance the joys of the secular Christmas traditions with those Religious beliefs we hold so near and dear to us, thanks to the work of the fearless prophets of days gone by.
......repent and believe the good news for the Kingdom of God is at hand.