A Calling from the Desert
In today’s 1st reading and in the Gospel we hear about a voice thats coming from the desert. Prophet Isiah prophecies the coming of John the Baptist and Gospel of Mark talks about John the baptist preparing the way for Jesus. John the Baptist has a unique character in the salvation history. John the Baptist is the prophet who connects the Old Testament and the New testament. However, John the Baptist’s, voice comes from the desert.
It is important that we pay attention to what’s going on in the desert.
The desert is a place where time does not really matter, a place where you do not have to hurry up for the next thing, or the next project and so on, a place where you do not have to worry about road rage or the long Christmas lines at the department stores. Desert is a place of quietness, stillness. Dessert is a place of perfect peace, where time does not really matters. In the early ages monks went in to the desert, leaving their past lives to prepare them selves for the second coming fo Christ and to wait in anticipation to Christ face to face. So the desert became a place of waiting in anticipation.
Talking about the desert experience, I remember the first time I visited Saint Meinrad Archabbey. I flew from Mobile, Alabama to Louisville airport and rented a car from Louisville to Saint Meinrad. After an hour of driving I got off on exit 72 and got on to IN – 62. My GPS was saying I had 10 more miles to drive. I was driving anxiously down on this state road on a beautiful summer day in July with tall corn fields on to my left hand side. I felt like I was going to the dessert, away from the civilization in middle of corn fields to a perfect place of peace. Monks try to create a perfect place of peace by creating a certain level of silence in the monastery. Inside the monastery quarters where we live in, we do not talk with each other on the hall ways. At Saint Meinrad we have a grand silence that starts every night at 10pm until 8 am next day. We try to cultivate a silence space in order to create a peaceful dessert like experience as we prepare our selves in anticipation for the coming of Jesus Christ.
Saint Benedict says we have to listen to the voice of God with the ear of our hearts. So the silence is for us to be able to listen to the voice of God, to listen to the voice that invites us to the desert to spend sometime with God.
Perfect place of peace and interior silence is the ideal dream, for a monk, in order to hear the voice of God in the dessert. For centuries many individuals have been going to the dessert in order to hear the voice of God. And in today’s Gospel God invites all of us to listen to that invitation that comes from the desert; an invitation to come to the desert for all of us and join the monks along with John the Baptist while we wait in anticipation for the coming of Jesus Christ.
During this time of anticipation we are to prepare our selves to receive Christ, by clearing the way for him, by emptying the closets that are full of interior noises and unrest. It is time to do some winter cleaning of our spiritual selves.
The message is good and appealing to all of us. I assume at some point or another we all have felt a desire to retire into a silent space and have a moment of silence for our selves by unplugging from the daily busy lives. We all have the interior desire to go to the dessert deep within us. However, the reality can be far from the ideal image of the dessert. Because we, all, who live the real world have worldly matters to attend to, such as meeting deadlines for projects, assignments, paying bills on time, taking care of the mortgages and planning the 401K plans, these are timely matters. While all these are good and important matters to attend to God invites us to be attentive to Godly matters that effects our eternal life.
Therefore, I would like to invite all of you to be attentive to the voice that comes from the desert asking us to make way for Christ in our lives, by taking at least few minutes from your busy lives for next two weeks of Advent and spend sometime in quietness, reflecting on God’s word in order to listen to his voice in the depths of our hearts. Monks do this twice a day every day, or at least we are suppose to …. we have two periods of holy reading, We call that lectio divina, one in the morning and one in the evening, where we spent about 30 mins reading and reflecting on the scriptures. Because in the scriptures we encounter the Word that became Flesh. So brothers and sisters what can we do this week in order to prepare ourselves as we are getting ready to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus christ, to welcome him in to our mangers?