Reflecting on Luke 3: 1-6
Let’s all go to the Holy Land sometime. It will make today’s Gospel jump off the page and into our hearts. We’ll visit the home where John the Baptist was born to Elizabeth and Zechariah. We know about his miraculous conception, and about his mother’s kinship with Mary, the mother of Jesus, from the first chapter of Luke.
But then will come the question that no historian has been able to truly answer. How did John, whom Luke (and we, his readers) knows to be the cousin of Jesus, end up in the desert, ragged and relentless, proclaiming a gospel of repentance? St. Luke (the historian) likens his ministry to that unnamed desert- voice from Isaiah, crying out for us to prepare the way of the Lord.
The most convincing suggestion is that John had some connection with the Essenes, a desert community that was well know at the time of Christ. They, like John, lived humbly, and disdained the allures of city life (and the rulers of those cities). John would eventually come to the attention of one of those rulers, Herod Antipas, whom he condemned for his unethical and illegal marriage practice. We all know how that terrible story ended.
Or did it? Because I feel like I hear him, when I read stories of teenagers with access to AK-47s, or the one million pre-born children legally aborted in this country every year, or the lack of COVID-19 vaccines for the developing world, or the greed that animates so many of the global catastrophes every year.
I can hear him now, calling out for my own repentance. LISTEN! he thunders. YOU! Prepare ye the way of the Lord!
To what baptism of repentance do you feel yourself called?
Kathy McGovern ©2021