The first word from John the Baptist is repent. It is a challenging word to all of us because we all know we have fallen short of the dignity and glory that God wants for us.
John points a finger at the Pharisees and Sadducees – you brood of vipers. Why have you come out here? John is asking why have you come out to the desert? They have their royal homes, an abundance of food, special vestments for worship, and their worship is no longer to praise God but has become false and a mockery to God.
One day Jesus will tell his disciples to listen to what they say but don’t do what they do. Could someone point a finger at us and say the same thing? We need time, a few minutes, to do a self-examination daily. That is why we, too, must go out the desert. A quiet place away from all the voices telling us what to do, how to dress, what to think, what to believe. A place away from the noise of the world.
Isaiah speaks of a remarkable world. He lived some seven hundred years before Jesus. The Old Testament foretells the coming of Christ. Did you hear the clues in today’s reading?
“The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
a spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.”
Look again at these words. Wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. Are these not the gifts of the Holy Spirit? But Isaiah did know about the Holy Spirit.
God is at work preparing us to one day know the Holy Spirit. God is preparing us for a place where truth and justice meet. There is no more war or violence. We live in peace and harmony. How can that happen? Instead of thinking of ourselves we confirm our will to the Will of God. With accord we will all with one voice give praise and glory to God.
The sins of our past are washed away in the sacrament of baptism and confession. We are made new to be in the presence of God. Advent allows us a time to enter prayer more fully. It is a time of looking forward to the coming of Christ as we struggle with Christmas decorations, parties, and a world always pressing in on us. Yet, the prayer need only be a simple prayer in the desert of our hearts. Lord Jesus, come!
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and if the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen