Waiting in the Desert

As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet…” (Mt 11:7-9)

Jesus wanted the crowds to understand that those who dress and act as though they’re important aren’t the ones to whom they should listen. In fact, they can be demons in disguise.

Who do I go out into the desert to see? What kind of person attracts my attention? Whose opinion do I value most? In today’s society someone dressed in camel’s hair and dining on grasshoppers and honey would be considered eccentric at best and perhaps even be labeled mentally ill. It was a weird thing to do in Jesus’ day; it’d be even weirder now. The chances are slim that anyone would take such a person’s words seriously.

But that’s exactly what God asks me to do. He asks me to venture out into the desert and listen to the voice of the prophet. The prophet tells me to be bold enough to walk away from the fine clothing and put on camel hair clothes even at the risk of being considered eccentric. Even at the risk of becoming an outcast.

Mary, as a resident of Nazareth, you might have been an outcast. You surely must have been treated that way by the Roman occupation. Still, you said “yes” to God’s will in all things. Pray for me, that I may have the courage to step out into the desert regardless of how I might be labeled for doing so.

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