Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As we continue our Advent journey, we see in this weekend’s scripture passages John the Baptist emerge on the scene. John is the last prophet, the one to announce the ministry of Jesus, the Messiah.
The Gospel attests that John was foretold by the prophet, Isaiah. In Isaiah 40:3 we hear, “a voice cries out, ‘in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord.’” It is interesting that, at least in the English translation, the emphasis is on the desert as the place where the preparation takes place. Matthew’s Gospel moves the quotation marks when it says, “a voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘prepare the way of the Lord,’” emphasizing instead, the desert as the place where the voice cries out. But either way, the reality is that the work of preparing hearts for the Lord of Life happens in a deserted place, a desert, a wilderness.
If you and I are to continue the work of John the Baptist by preparing the way of the Lord in people’s hearts, then that preparation will often take place in a desert, of sorts; in places often devoid of religious practice and places dry in faith. We are called to evangelize, to share with those we encounter, especially those who might dwell in a spiritual desert, the Good News revealed in Jesus Christ. “God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in him might not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).
To do so, we must go to the desert places of people’s lives. We must be willing to meet them in their pain, in their grief, in their poverty and in their doubt. We must be willing to go to these “deserts” and listen to people, befriend them, pray with them, care for them and share our faith with them. When the time is right, after they know we care about them, after they trust us and after we have demonstrated our love for them, then we can share “the reason for our hope.” Then, we can share the faith we have in Jesus. That, is evangelization; that, is preparing the way of the Lord.
Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,