We have had a week of rain and dampness which has caused flooding in many parts of Queensland. While the rain is certainly welcome in some parts of the state, too much of a good thing can cause great damage. However, today’s gospel wants to take us to a very different place – the desert!
You see, the desert is the place where we learn what is important and what is not. It is the place where we realize what we need and what we don’t need. It was the desert that gave the Jewish people their character. It was there, wandering through the barren wilderness for 40 years, that they discovered what really matters. Love for God and love for each other!
It is from the desert, that barren wilderness, that the voice of John the Baptist comes in today’s gospel. He is simply but powerfully reinforcing the experience of the Jewish people. No matter what is going on in our lives, ultimately there are only two things that matter. In the desert, who cares how much money you have, there is nothing to buy. In the desert, no matter how many computers and gadgets we own, there is no place to plug them in. No matter how much we are attached to our smart phone, in the desert there is no reception. In the desert there are no parties, no shopping, no washing to be done or dinners to prepare. In the desert only two things matter: our love for God, and our love for one another.
Now, most of us have had desert experiences, often without being able to put words around them. The unexpected medical diagnoses suddenly transforms our world and we swiftly realize that now is the time to trust in God and trust in the love and support of family and friends. The loss of a loved one brutally brings home the truth that relationships are more important than accomplishments. A friendship broken by misunderstanding or hurt powerfully highlights the value and importance of friendships that endure.
The voice of John the Baptist that we hear today is challenging each one of us this Advent to make straight the path that leads to God. Don’t get washed away in a flood of tinsel and triviality. Don’t let the chaos and distractions of the Christmas season lead you off onto winding ways and rough roads. Instead, try to hear the voice of John the Baptist, calling from the desert, reminding you that this Christmas there are only two things that really matter: love for God and love for each other!
Wishing you and yours every blessing for the coming week,