John the Baptist in today’s Gospel urges people to change hearts and minds, be open to the message that the Kin-dom of God is at hand. He chastises the Jewish leaders who come to be baptized. What was their real interest in being there? So many people were going to John, it was all the rage, you might say. So, the Pharisees and Sadducees decide to jump on board. But John sees through their charade and calls them on it. They are not there to be transformed, but to be seen by the people, to appear to be what they are not, believers in the power to change and make a difference in their world. For Paul this was the coming of the Messiah who would lead the Jewish nation against the Imperial Rule of the Romans.
But we know that Jesus’ sense of the Kin-dom of God was that it was already here, and his call was to change heart and mind to one of love and compassion, and transform the world by reaching out in love and compassion to those oppressed and enslaved by the legalism of both the Roman and Jewish leadership. His was not a call to arms for the battlefield, but rather a call to arms to birth, as Julian of Norwich would say, “the love-longings of God”.
John Philip Newell, in his book, “The Rebirthing of God”, shares that these love-longings are planted within each of us. They are deep within as holy, natural longings for oneness, a primal sacred drive for union, waiting to be born anew in our world. We are called during Advent, as were the people by John the Baptist, to review what is blocking this renewal of God’s love-longings in us.
Where am I stuck? When might I be a Pharisee or Sadducee? What prejudgments of others, what prejudices, what fear of speaking out, what disregard for creation, be that animals, plants, the ocean, etc. block me from bringing to fruition the world proposed by Isaiah where justice and mercy will reign, and adversaries will be at peace with each other.
As we prepare to recall the birthing of Jesus by Mary, it might be worth remembering Meister Eckhart’s insistence that it doesn’t matter if Mary gave birth to Jesus, if we don’t give birth to Christ in our lives, today. How will you spend time during this Advent season to reflect of what barriers exist in your life? What needs transformation in your life? How might you bring God’s love-longings to birth that will help transform the world in which you live?
What did you hear? What might you do? What might it cost you?
Dennis McDonald, ARCWP
Want to Know More?