PRAISED BE Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
St. John the Baptist is known to us as the voice crying out in the desert because it was in the desert that he preached “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Somehow, the desert seems to be a strange venue for preaching. After, there is virtually no one living in the desert because its circumstances make it inhabitable. The desert is the place of death. Perhaps this is the reason why John preached in the desert. Being the place of death, the desert has become the image of the world of man after the fall. “Through the disobedience of one man, sin entered into the world and together with sin entered death.” Man used to live in paradise because he used to live in communion with God. But turning away from God in whom is found life, man found death. Paradise became a desert.
The Holy Father speaks of a similar situation in our times: “Recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual ‘desertification’. In the (Vatican II) Council’s time it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us. This void has spread.” (Benedict XVI, Homily at the beginning of the year of Faith, 11 October 2012) (This week, the congress rejected the amendment that would require the government to respect religious belief. Is this not a manifestation of the advance of a spiritual “desertification”?) The world we are living in is increasingly becoming a world without God. And the Church must lead people out of this desert.
The Holy Father speaks of people of faith in the middle of the desert: “And in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive. Living faith opens the heart to the grace of God which frees us from pessimism. Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path.” John the Baptist is an example of the people of faith we need to see in the desert. He provides the way out of the desert by “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” John the Baptist tells us that we must accept the Savior who comes into our desert. He tells us to take away all hindrances that prevent the Lord from entering into our world: the valleys of our negligence and the mountains of our excesses. We must make up for the good have failed to do and repent for the evil that we have done. Let us “discern what is of value”: “In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life.” (Homily at the beginning of the Year of faith) Let us thirst for God, let us thirst for the ultimate meaning of life. In this thirst for the true living water, let us make straight all winding roads and make smooth all rough ways “and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!