Reflecting on Mark 1: 1-8
The funniest bumper sticker I’ve ever seen has a kind of Advent tint to it: Jesus is coming back. Look busy.
I still chuckle. What makes it funny, I think, is that it betrays our hapless misunderstanding of the Divine. If Jesus is coming back―and, by the way, he never left, thanks to his abiding Holy Spirit―then it must be like the teacher coming back into the room, or the boss returning from a trip.
Look busy, everybody! Because everything we’ve been doing while the boss was gone must be worthless. Working on projects, answering e-mails on our own schedule, or even taking a delicious sick day must all be a waste of the company’s money. The boss wants us to work, work, work, and if we work enough we’ll get promoted so we can work even harder.
Yuck. What an odd and unhappy Jesus we must be expecting. We see in the gospel that people of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were making the trek out to the desert to hear John and be baptized by him. And I’ll bet they were all willing to use their sick days to get there.
Why? Because they sensed that John was the witness of the One to come, and they wanted to be as close as they could get.
I suspect that, if Jesus has questions of us at his return, they will be something like this: Did you notice the astounding beauty of the world? Did you love as well as you could? Did you dig deep and find the grace to forgive?
And, finally, I imagine him asking that great question that Aslan, The Christ figure in the last book of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, asks each of us:
I have known you long. Do you know me?