It was the fifteenth year of the rule of the Emperor Tiberius; Pontius Pilatus was governor of Judea; Herod ruled over Galilee, his brother Philip ruled over the country of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias over Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas were the High Priests at that time when the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah in the desert.
John proclaimed a baptism for repentant people to obtain forgiveness of sins and he went through the whole country bordering the Jordan River. It was just as is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah: listen to this voice crying out in the desert: prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight. The valleys will be filled and the mountains and hills made low. Everything crooked will be made straight and the rough paths smooth; and every human being will see the salvation of God.
READ: John is introduced and his subsequent ministry. He proclaimed a baptism of repentance which recalled the words of the prophet Isaiah concerning the days of the coming of the Lord.
REFLECT: The summons of God come to us sometimes during the most inconvenient time. On the part of John it came when he was in the desert, relishing his solitude and separation from the world. Now that the Lord had called him to active duty, he would once again face the grit and grind of life. But John had a pretty burden to carry. He had to prepare the way of his Lord. He is an important actor in the plans of God but he would not be the main protagonist. He would cross paths with powerful men and women and rankle their nerves. It would not be an easy life from then on. But did this prospect deter the likes of John? Some walk away, others out of fear do it with bitterness; still others carry on in sullen pride thinking of it as their destiny. But John, he just did it. He had spent too much time in silence to know that the word of God cannot be contained.
RESPOND: The Lord extends His invitation to us to be part of His team. Was I ever aware that I am being called to something greater than my own worries and personal pursuits in life? Perhaps I need a desert experience today, to shut myself from the noise of the world and listen to the voice of the Lord calling me to a life that is more than the ordinary.
PRAY: Lord, disturb me today from my wanderings to the jungle of this world. Invite me to the desert of prayer that I may know You better, hear You better and love You more. May my day be a day of rediscovering how beautiful You are my God and thereby be smitten by it. That I may cling to You only throughout. Amen.
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