Listen to the Reflection
Read the Reflection
It is love. Love that is unyielding, and unending. This love rests in the divine center of the Prophets. In the heart of John the Baptist, guided by the Holy Spirit. It is this love God longs to share with us above all else. A divine love we can only ever experience in part because of our temporary and finite lives. A love only spoken of through metaphors and inadequate comparisons. Each fails to capture even half of this Love.
Our God continues to invite us into more of Himself. More horizons of Himself than His love. Just as Jesus invites each of us to follow him. As His disciples followed him they saw an overflowing of healing, hope, joy, and love. There was also deep sorrow, and grief within Christ. Jesus extended this invitation in the dark of night within the Garden of Gethsemane. The disciples did not follow. Those there instead rested while Jesus wept in agony nearby. There is an invitation to taste the grief and agony of God for creation gone wrong.
Love that holds all of creation in existence, along with soul piercing sorrow. A sorrow that doesn’t destroy because it is covered and sourced in love. Love that overcomes all things.
The pain of this sorrow is what drives the Prophets, including John the Baptist, into the wilderness. To be a prophet is to be welcomed further into the emotional horizons and depths of our God – to be bound unto the Divine Pathos. From this deep emotional intermingling with God comes their calls to repentance, and their cries for the world to be made right. Total despair is held off only with God’s deep and tender love for creation. A love that God shares with them. Shares directly into their hearts.
It is within and between these divine emotions that John takes refuge within the desert. It is the dance of love, sorrow, and hope that frees his mouth to proclaim repentance for the forgiveness of sins. It is his tumultuous inner world colliding with the first century world. John finds himself in a world on the cusp of change. He begins proclaiming in the wilderness.
The Christ is coming.
Proclaiming that the Christ is nearly here. He proclaims the same message Jesus will – the Kingdom of Heaven.
The voice of one crying out in the wilderness. 'Prepare the way of the LORD, make his paths straight.' Matthew 3:3b - Isaiah 40:3
John was a life foretold. An Angel had met his father, the priest Zechariah, as he entered into the Temple. This man was filled with fear, and doubted the promise of God that he would father a child. His voice was divinely silenced until their son was born, and his name was proclaimed to be John. Finally able to speak, this Priest of the Almighty God proclaims.
68Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel, who has come to set his people free. 69He has raised up for us a mighty savior, from the house of His servant David. 70Through His holy prophets, long ago God promised, 71 to save us from our enemies, and the hands of all who hate us. 72He promised to show mercy to our ancestors, and to remember His holy covenant. 73This was the oath God swore to our father Abraham, 74 to rescue us out of the hands of our enemies, free to worship Him without fear, 75holy and righteous before Him, all the days of our lives. 76And you, my child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go, before the Lord, preparing his ways, 77to give his people knowledge of salvation, through the forgiveness of their sins. 78In the tender mercy of our God, from high above the first light of day reaches us, 79shining on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and guiding our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:68-79
John would proclaim and prepare people for the coming Christ. These two who would be cousins find themselves growing up in proximity to one another. John would go on to prepare the way for Jesus in the wilderness. Where his father’s voice was divinely silenced, John’s voice would be loosed by divine love. To remind people of the love, hope, and vision for creation and relationship God has always had for all people.
In the millennia since the events of the Gospels, we find ourselves in a post Pentecost world. For Jesus has baptized us with the Holy Spirit and with fire. That same Spirit of God that filled John from birth has been poured out and dwells within those who believe. We also find ourselves awaiting the return of the Christ. There is a Kingdom with Jesus as its King, and its kingdom spans all of space and time. His Kingdom is coming.
None of our lives were foretold like John the Baptist. Yet, the same spirit dwells within us. The spirit intermingles ourselves with the self of God. With the utmost patience, mercy, and grace the fullness of the God dwells within us. At the same time, Gods holds the growing expansiveness of the cosmos within Himself. The light of this same God shines upon us. It illuminates and warms us when we dwell in darkness in the nearness of death. The Spirit guides our feet into the way of peace.
This does not keep us from the crumbling, crushing sorrows of our contemporary world. The course of your life may have thrust you beneath milestones that consume and crush the wonderful goodness God spoke into being. Spoke into your being, my beloved sibling in Christ. Or you may have been spared through chance. Or your own eyes and heart may have protected you by blinding you to evils. In time, within the abundance of tender healing grace, may your wounds be met with divine love.
It may not be possible. That’s okay. It may crush you. That’s okay. For our King is coming. Even if the night comes, and you never again see the sun rise again. Even if the number of your days are spent. You can not be alone. You can not be lost upon the seas of loss and destitution. For the Lord your God is with you, and within you. He knows you. Your name is written in the book of life. Jesus is waiting to welcome you into his coming Kingdom.
May we be able to live against the pattern of our age. With the help of God, might we be able to invite others. Invite them into the Love of God that is fully embodied within this moment in time. To invite people to inhabit the fullness of our world as we live in love, sorrow, and hope. For love stays the hand of God. Love is the source of sorrow. God has for each and every one of us a love unyielding, and unending. A love that longs to give you peace.
May the way you live, love, and speak proclaim the coming of the Christ.
78In the tender mercy of our God, from high above the first light of day reaches us, 79shining on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and guiding our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1: 78-79
May the Lord of all bless you with His divine love. Giving you the love you need to delay despair. May the Spirit within sustain your courage to respond to the many invitations to love, live, and speak of the Christ. Within the struggles and tensions of life might our merciful Lord show you ways to proclaim the coming of the Christ, and his way of peace. May you find yourself open to more of God, and to proclaiming His goodness in your life and words.
These are invitations to deeper engagement and reflection. As far as you find them helpful, may you find time to reflect on them in solitude, quiet, and with the tender gracious presence of God.
- Meditate on the divine love God has for you. What new ways may God be inviting you to let this love animate a part of your life?
- John the Baptist lived contrary to the pattern of his time. What way of life might God be inviting you to live into?
- How do you feel about asking God to share more of Himself with you? Is this a new idea? Is this something you’ve done before?
- With the fullness of God embodied in this moment, share with the Spirit the places your relationships, or world, are crumbling or crushing you.
- Pray, rest and wait: Ask the Lord to share more of his Love with you for a situation where the despair is overwhelming love.
This Lectio Divina is from Luke 1:68-79 and is read by Jordan Prins. It is from the Urban Monastic Translation of Luke. It is read three times and concludes in 15 minutes.
After the First Reading Meditate.
After the Second Reading Pray.
After the Third Reading Contemplate.
Open my eyes to see.
Your unyielding, and unending love.
Proclaim Your ways within me.
Establish your Kingdom in my Life
Overlay Image: Paul Prins taken 11 August 2021 at Pont Louis-Philippe in Paris.
Base Image: Paul Prins taken 24 November 2022 in the Marais of Paris.