In those days John the Baptist came to the desert of Judea, preaching and announcing: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” John’s clothes were made out of camel hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food consisted out of locusts and honey from wild bees. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan River. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the River. Mathew 3, 1 – 2, 4 – 6
John the Baptist causes a stir! Not only is his outfit of a striking view, but also his message. He invites people to turn to God. The reasoning is fascinating: The kingdom of heaven is near. He calls on people: Come to God. He has the light for your life! He is very close! –The one who turns around to God, turns to the light. Because God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
I was reading recently in a magazine from the Swiss Food company “Migros” about the importance of light for mankind. In an interview, philosopher Patrizia Hausheer (35) said: "It is a lifelong task to move out of the need to only clarify the obvious short term issues. Eating well, traveling, going to the movies ... this can´t be everything in life. For Plato, ideas are the light. We have to move more towards light. There is darkness in the cave and not very inspiring. In coming out of it, it may be dazzling at first sight. However, light leads us to new insights, to new ideas. "(MM4, 21.1.2019, p. 27)
For John, light however, is not a philosophical idea, but manifested in a concrete person: Jesus Christ. He says: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will follow the light, which leads to a full life”(John 8:12).
John shows the way out of the vividly dark living cave where so many people live. People who are dissatisfied with a life that consists only of the short – term satisfaction of their obvious needs. They want more than just eating and drinking, going on vacation, going to the movies (I add: they want more than family and career). I agree with Mrs Hausheer: This is definitely not everything in life. There is more! Life gets a sense of quality, it gets depth when man turns to God and sees God. In Jesus Christ, God has become reality.
When the Pharisee Saulus in his religious fanaticism begins to rush to Damascus in order to exterminate the Christians, a bright light suddenly shines around him in the middle of the bright midday sun. Blinded, he falls to the ground. The light is so bright that he temporarily turns blind. A voice asks: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” the voice replied. (Acts 9 and 22).
This encounter with Jesus, the light of life, changes everything. Saul found the way out of his dark mind, which was full of hate for Christians. Saul became Paul, the pioneer of the gospel.
John the Baptist was the great pioneer of the Messiah. “There is a voice calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him“(Mathew 3:3).
There were crowds streaming to meet John the Baptist. For many of us it is often the other way round. Nevertheless, I know many Christians, women and men, who enter into the life desert of a single fellow human being. Who go to someone who sits in his "Cave of Grief" and cannot find a way out into the light. There are these Christians who go to someone who has no more power for their own life, the one who cannot cope any longer. Or they go to someone who sits lonely and abandoned in the hollow of his illness.
In the coming weeks I wish both of us, you and me, the courage to go to people and help them to set aside obstacles. Obstacles that keep them from living a full life. I pray that we Christians do not put obstacles in the way of others, but are the forerunners of life. God help us to bring to others a ray of God´s love.
God bless you!