St. John the Baptist Choir – Excerpt from “All is Calm” CD
Clearing the way
Ever tried to pull a kid’s wagon or stroller across an open field? You move about three steps and thunk – a front wheel is stuck! A quick adjustment frees the front, but a tree branch immediately blocks the back wheels. A grumble and some bruised fingers later, you’re moving again only to find a rut has toppled the wagon entirely. It’s a frustrating and inefficient process.
The road of faith can be much the same. Our hearts too often are unplowed fields strewn with the rocks of selfishness and laziness, littered with unused gifts. Mired in such fields of frustration our little wagons of faith topple over and are left to rust. So how do we start those sunken wheels spinning again? Read the story of John the Baptist. He found people stranded on the road to God and helped them name the boulders of sin that blocked their path. John “cleared the way” for Jesus to reach people by faithfully plowing their hearts with repentance and baptism. Stuck in a rut today? Reach for the plough, dig in and root out that sin. You’ll find the Master gently reaching down to lovingly push your little wagon back onto the road of faith.
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What should we do?
The crowds came to John wanting instruction. “What should we do?” they asked. This is a typical human reaction. We want to manage our lives, even our faith or salvation by taking action. It feels so much safer when we think we’re in control. But we pay a price for this micromanagement in stress and anxiety. We’re never really freed from the pressure to strive. There is always pressure to do something. Or, if we have already done something, there is the pressure to keep on doing it. This is the way of the world.
But God has done something entirely different. When the crowds pressed John for an answer about what to do, he didn’t answer. Instead, he talked about what God has done. It’s not what we do that matters, but what God did. It is this and this alone that gives life to the world. When you find yourself stressed this Advent, take John’s advice: Forget yourself and focus on God.