In which of the following scenarios does God exist? The first is a father who loses his job, he experiences a difficult loss of a loved one, but his daughter comes to him before bed that night and gives him a big hug. The second is another man who gets promoted in his job, realizes that he now has more than enough money to provide for his family, especially his daughter’s education. You may be tempted to say scenario number two, but if you consider the subtle part of the Gospel today, that John the Baptist eats locusts and honey, and you understand the life of faith Jesus asks us to live, you will say both!
Have you ever seen a locust up close? Have you ever tried to eat one? They may be full of good vitamins, like the honey, but they do not seem appealing. So it is with some of life’s turns in which God is present. Today offers us an insight into seeing them more clearly.
The people in the first reading from Isaiah are on a journey that leaves them at times confused about God’s presence. They struggled very much at times and wondered if their sins had kept them from God. Worse yet, at times we think our sins are why these difficult times happen in our life. These Holy people come through the exile to see a powerful but gentle God who comes before them. Darkness goes away and light takes over then, although the challenges in their life remain.
John the Baptist carries this message for us in his appearance and his actions. What he appears to be is a person not to be approached and his words are suspect at best. How many times does this happen to us? I would say many in light of what I have seen in my life of service as a Deacon.
Let us ask ourselves a few questions:
Is God present in the death of a loved one?
Is God present in the loss of a job?
Is God present in sickness, loneliness?
Yes, these are all locusts that John brought with him on his journey for a reason.
The people in our life who bring us comfort in a loss are the honey. God’s comforting words through Holy Scripture are the honey.
Still, this is not the easiest part of our faith to consider so I will need to quote John in his powerful statement – “Prepare the way of the Lord.”
I was just recounting some college stories for my daughter. Some of my exams were very difficult. If I had just showed up, which I did for a few, I would not have done very well. When I took the time to prepare, to put in the work, I did much better.
During a time like Advent, take the time to prepare for God’s coming. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, reading scripture, praying as a family, attending Mass more often are all ways to prepare.
This is how the people of the Old Testament saw the light. This is what John is preaching.
This is how we too will see God’s presence, not only to get through the tough times, but to flourish.
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