Monday, December 10, 2012
Unlike some who may be looking for shepherds and wise men, I have always found myself anticipating the arrival of John the Baptist on the liturgical stage created by Advent. His place of importance is underscored by the fact that each of the four gospel writers give him space in their telling of the story of Jesus. Even the words of Jesus add to the prominence of his place. Of course, John the Baptist would shun such attention as he always made it clear that he was about pointing folks to Jesus and not to himself.
Of course, pointing people away from self is an admirable quality, especially in our day where so much time is trivialized by tweeting all about me and what I am doing in the moment. But, another thing which makes John stand out is the way he is unafraid to speak clearly and boldly. He never shows any concern for those who might be offended by truth speaking. He called the religious leaders of the day "a brood of vipers" and he preached a hard word when he told the people who came to hear him that there was something radically wrong with them. Winning a popularity contest was certainly not his goal.
He was not a people pleaser, but surely it must be said of him that he was a God pleaser. Seeing him back on center stage in these early days of Advent reminds us of how important it is for us to live in a way that is pleasing to those around us. Sometimes that inner need of ours puts us in a position of compromising what we know as the Word by which we have been called to live. And, when we see ourselves in such a way, listening carefully to the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts may cause us to hear the thundering, powerful voice of John the Baptist preaching to us, "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven has come near." Heeding the voice will put us on the road of being ready for the coming Christ.