He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’” (John 1:23)
This Gospel passage is particularly profound because of the messenger. Remember, John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and looks like it, probably smells like it. He is not refined, but God is using him to testify that Jesus is God. So naturally, the approach of the religious elite is to question John the Baptist’s authority and gauge his ambition.
A friend once told me that the marginalized have the most informed view of the world. That should not be a surprise because throughout the Bible God uses imperfect figures, those on the outskirts of society, to deliver messages or otherwise reveal God’s work. And yet, it is human to find ourselves dismissing people whom we don’t view as legitimate. I can think of examples of state legislators who made the news by discrediting workers who testified in favor of a minimum wage increase as being unqualified to speak on an economic issue.
As we prepare for Christmas, let us do our best to develop John the Baptist’s clarity of mission. And let us pray continually that the Holy Spirit would guide us so that our hearts will be open to God’s message, even when the messenger may look different from us.
In your world, who are the voices from the wilderness?
*This reflection is from Pax Christi USA’s Advent reflection booklet,Waking Up to God in Our Midst: Reflections for Advent 2014.