Friday, December 4, 2015

In the framework of the desert

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
December 6, 2015

Luke 3:1-6

Luke is interested in pointing out in detail the names of the characters who controlled the various spheres of political and religious power at that time. They are the ones who plan and run everything. However, the decisive event of Jesus Christ is being prepared and it occurs outside their sphere of influence and power, without them knowing or deciding anything.

That's how what is essential in the world and in our lives always appears. That's how God's grace and salvation enter human history. The essential isn't in the hands of the powerful. Luke says tersely that "the Word of God came upon John in the desert," not in imperial Rome or the sacred enclosure of the Temple of Jerusalem.

Nowhere but in the desert can you better hear God's call to change the world. The desert is the land of truth. The place where you live on what is essential. There's no room for the superfluous. You can't be accumulating things unnecessarily. Luxury and ostentation aren't possible. The important thing is to seek the right way to steer one's life.

That's why some prophets longed so much for the desert, symbol of a simpler life more deeply rooted in the essential, a life not yet distorted by so much unfaithfulness to God and and so much injustice towards the people. In the framework of the desert, John the Baptist proclaims the mighty symbol of "Baptism," the starting point for conversion, purification, forgiveness, and the beginning of a new life.

How do we respond to this call today? John the Baptist sums it up in an image taken from Isaiah: "Prepare the way of the Lord." Our lives are strewn with obstacles and resistance that prevent or hinder the coming of God into our hearts and communities, our Church and our world. God is always near. We are the ones who have to make way to welcome Him incarnated in Jesus.

Isaiah's images invite us to very basic and fundamental commitments: caring better for the essential without becoming distracted by what is secondary, rectifying what we have all been deforming, straightening crooked paths, facing the real truth of our lives to recover a spirit of conversion. We are to care well for the baptisms of our children but what we all need is a "baptism of conversion."

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