Prophets don’t come into our lives every day. And they don’t make the sort of impression that John the Baptist and the other biblical prophets must have made. But if we try to understand how they experienced God, we might begin to see that even we ourselves have moments of prophetic insight. Prophets are gifted with a personal awareness of God’s love for his people. Their call both inspires and compels them to preach this word to those who will listen, and to those who will close their ears.
So, let’s take a little nostalgic trip – one which we probably never gave any real thought to, before. During this season of Advent, we decorate and prepare for the coming of the Savior. Let’s pause for a moment and think seriously about what it must have been like in the Garden of Paradise. This was a place where life was so peaceful and beautiful. There was absolutely no mistrust among the animals, and man had no fear of any animals. It was a time of true peace and harmony. Each part of creation, had its own place and all worked together to bring glory to God.
When Eden was lost, everything changed. Adam and Eve became ashamed of their nakedness, and anger and mistrust was portrayed by humans for other humans and also among the animals in the Garden. Adam and Eve were taken away from Paradise and it was lost forever. Today’s first reading speaks to our nostalgia when the Prophet Isaiah writes: “Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.”…… On that day, the root of Jesse will sprout and blossom and a new leader (Christ the Lord) will once again restore that peace for which each of us longs.
Today’s Gospel doesn’t mix any words in presenting to us a prophet named John the Baptist – one who lives in a desert – wore a coat of camel hair – a leather belt around his waist – and ate locusts and wild honey to be the prophet of our time, and show us by word and example what conversion is all about. Even in this physical description of John the Baptist, we are able to find signs of repentance and penance, which he so ardently preached. Scripture also tells us that they came from everywhere, attracted by the man John and the message he proclaimed.
John, like Isaiah and the other prophets, stood between God and humanity, and spoke the truth about both. John was sent by God to prepare the hearts of us all to receive the message of salvation from our Savior. John tells us that we must “Repent, for the kingdom of God is close at hand. The word repent is the key that opens the door between our sins and the kingdom of heaven. He opens our eyes to the obstacles (hills, valleys, and crooked curves) in recognizing Jesus in our lives and allowing him to make a difference in how we treat others.
The best preparation, we as Christians have is to follow the example of his most Blessed Mother whose feast is traditionally celebrated this day as the Immaculate Conception. She taught us, by her example and spiritual preparation to celebrate the event when God became man to take away our sins; thus enabling us to share in his divine nature. We are invited to prepare for his coming through conversion and repentance. Let’s turn away from those things in our lives which turn us away from God. The choice is ours to make – REPENT! for the kingdom of God IS close at hand.