Called to the Desert

December 10, 2023
Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)
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The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. 
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” Mark 1:1–3

These, the opening lines from the Gospel of Saint Mark, present us with Saint John the Baptist. John was the one that Isaiah prophesied would come before the Messiah. John was given the responsibility and privilege of being the one who would be the most immediate preparer for the Savior of the World.

Perhaps if most people were given the task of instructing John on how best to prepare the way for the Lord, they would tell him he must go to the leaders of the people, the civil authorities, the influential and those of status in society to win them over first. Many would conclude that the Messiah needed to have the full support of the leaders at that time. But that’s obviously not what John did.

John the Baptist, at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was driven not into the homes of the most prestigious and wealthy, not into the halls of the civil governors, and not into the synagogues or Temple. Instead, John was driven into the desert. And in the desert, that dry and deserted place, he drew many people to himself and to his message of repentance.

God continues to call many today to follow in the footsteps of John the Baptist. Though John was a real person sent on a real mission at one particular moment in time, the mission he fulfilled is one that still needs fulfilling in various ways today. The “way of the Lord” still needs to be prepared. The Lord still desires to come to many, and He needs prophets to prepare the way for His continual coming by grace. Are you one of those people?

Truth be told, every one of us, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, young or old, etc., is called by God to prepare the way for His coming by grace every day. We are called to prepare the way by calling others to sincere repentance and conversion of life. This is done by the witness of our actions, by our words and by numerous other ways that God calls. How is God calling you to do His work? He is certainly calling you. You simply need to be open to that calling and generously respond.

Reflect, today, upon that “desert” to which you have been called, so as to prepare yourself and others for the coming of Christ. That desert is any place where there is need and every place where our Lord is not. It might be your family, work environment, community, among friends, or any place that lacks the superabundance of God’s grace. Seek to enter those deserts and to be open to be a channel of our Lord’s grace to those in need. 

Lord, You desire to come to me and to all of Your children every day. Please use me to not only prepare my own heart and soul for Your divine coming but to also prepare others to meet You. Give me wisdom and compassion, insight and strength, so that I can imitate Saint John the Baptist and prepare the way for Your most glorious coming by grace. Jesus, I trust in You.

Saint Andrew Christmas Novena
Traditionally prayed 15 times a day from November 30 through Christmas Eve.

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Featured image above: Detail of stained glass window created by Louis Comfort Tiffany in Arlington Street Church (Boston) depicting John the Baptist. March 2009 photo by John Stephen Dwyer, via Wikimedia Commons

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