THE NEIGHBOURS WERE BEWILDERED. Luke says that fear came upon them as Zechariah broke with tradition, asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John” … (variously, “the Lord has favoured”, “gift from God”, or “God is good”) … Something was afoot, a ripple of fear in the hill country, “for, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him”. What then will this child become?
Godspell, if not faithful Bible reading, taught me what became of him. John the Baptist and the hauntingly beautiful “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” come to my mind simultaneously. Fear asks: “what is to become of him?” and “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” is the reply.
John was said to have been graced before his birth (hence the Feast of the Birth of …) And the grace within him was leaping about already in his mother’s womb. The Life in him bursting before his birth to say: “stop, look, listen”. Repent. Turn around a minute. Wake up and smell the coffee. Splash some cold water on your face. Be baptised … become (again) a member of the human race, graced before birth with LIFE and therefore someone who cannot doubt the endless possibilities of Life’s (Divine) for-given-ness and hopefulness.
But you have to tidy the bedroom so you can lay out the train set. You have to clear the way. Fear, wealth, overwork, underwork, lack of charity, too great a love of money, blind allegiance to tradition on the one hand or the new-fangled on the other fills your Eden with weeds. Get a grip. Clear the clutter. The way can be made straight, burdens made light. The Life in you came from and is destined for Jerusalem … a new Jerusalem … a resting place, a home, where you will live in peace.
Living in the past haunts you. The oversized mortgage is killing you. Being always at work makes you believe that nobody loves you. Repent. Turn around. Look at life in a new way. The original way. Ask yourself: “what will become of him?”. Ask yourself: “what’s will become of me?”. And then Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Clear the ground. Keep what’s important. Burn the weeds.
“No-one has been born who is greater than John the Baptist”, said Jesus. “yet the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.” Wake up. “Be baptised”. Splash some water. Believe the good news … clear the clutter. Give yourself a chance. Dump the tired propaganda. Eternal Life (graced before you were born) begins now.