The voice of one crying in the wilderness

The Gospels link John ministry to the Wilderness experience. The Wilderness is more than a geographical location for biblical writers. It has a deep theological meaning when one considers its symbolism in the Old Testament as the place where Israel encountered God. Like the mountain top, the desert is the place where we experience the presence of God and enter into communion with Him.

The Isaiah passage from which today’s Gospel is drawn was a call to Israel to return to the desert experience, a return to a life of faithfulness. Envision in this passage is an appeal to Israel to renew its covenant with God and to become the light to the nations.
Today’s gospel is an appeal to all people to return to a life of faithful obedience to God; it offers salvation to all persons who are willing to submit their lives to God. From Luke’s perspective salvation is a universal concept which is made available to all persons without regard to their race, religion or social standing. He writes “and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

Repentance is the prerequisite for the new life to be found in Christ. From the Old Testament perspective sin means to walk in the wrong direction, to be on the wrong path. Repentance is a call to change direction and get back on the right path. John has this in mind as he invites his hearers to repent and bear fruits that befit repentance. John’s idea of repentance is not a legal exercise; it is a call change our way of living and adopt a certain life style which reflects God’s grace in our lives.

Today’s Gospel can be summed up in five words; “Change your way of living.”  John invites us to change all that is crooked, rough and ugly in our lives and to become lights that will draw people to God. It is a call to change our thinking, attitude and outlook on life, as we prepare for the second advent of Jesus Christ who will come as judge of the living and the dead.

What do we need to change? The people asked John this very same question: "What then shall we do?" The change required is a commitment on our part to be faithful to God. This will affect our thinking, attitude and the way we live in the community. It will inform our relationships with people, how we treat them and relate to them. The change we are asked to embrace will make us new individuals and give us a new personality.
Sin affects our relationship with God and people. If our lives are to be changed it is imperative that we seek God’s forgiveness by acknowledging our sins and accepting his offer of forgiveness.  Forgiveness heals our broken relationship with God and makes our crooked paths straight. All of us are crooked, it is part of the human experience, but we must not use our crookedness as an excuse for sinful living. There is a remedy for our crookedness.

I would like to suggest that the Gospel also asks us to reflect on our daily lives and see what changes need to be made in our human relationships. Do we need to change the way we treat those who differ from us in their religion, politics, race and colour?  Are we kind and respectful to our spouses-husbands and wives, families-parents and children, and friends? Are we truthful and honest in our relationships with family and friends? Do we treat each other with dignity and honour? Do we take advantage of people? Do we act justly in our dealings with people? Do we need to change our arrogance and become humble? Very often in life our relationships break down  and disintegrate because we are not willing to make the changes that are  necessary for right living. Without a change in our attitude our relationships will break down. All of us must ask ourselves “what do I need to change so as to improve my relationships with my family and friends?”

I am the Voice of one crying in the wilderness-change your way of living.

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