Today’s gospel takes us to the desert where we meet John the Baptist (Mark 1:1-8). The desert had a special significance for Israel. It was there that God spent 40 years with his people leading them, instructing them, feeding them, and disciplining them to prepare them for the promised land. Although God had taken his people out of Egypt, he had difficulty in taking Egypt out of his people. They longed for the security and sustenance (food and drink). It was a time of testing and purification which eventually led them into a close relationship with God.
John’s appearance in the desert is a reminder of those days of long ago. His proclamation of a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins was an invitation for the people to prepare for a new relationship with God.
Advent is a time for us to do the same as we prepare for Christmas. We, too, are invited to enter a spiritual desert through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and especially the Sacrament of Penance. If we do, we can expect to experience the refrain of this week’s psalm “Lord, let us see your kindness and grant us your salvation.” (Ps 85:9-14)
“We must love while we suffer, and we must suffer if we love.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars