The voice

Readings for December 9, 2018

Second week of Advent
Baruch 5:1-9
Psalm 126
Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11
Luke 3:1-6

www.usccb.org/bible/readings/

John the Baptist is a favorite Biblical character of mine. As the “voice of one crying out in the desert” in this week’s readings, it should come as no surprise that he lived in the desert, ate honey and locusts, and he wore animal skins and a leather belt. But while I am entertained by the whimsy of his living alone in the desert, John the Baptist is a favorite Biblical character of mine because he was never without his voice.

He boldly told both common citizens and the religious elite to amend their ways, traveling “throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” And the remarkable bit of it was that when John spoke, people listened.

Predictably, the power of John’s voice gave rise to his fame. But John remained humbly focused on using his voice to proclaim the coming of Christ, and once Christ came, he readily passed his fame into Jesus’ hands. A lesser man would have been saddened by this loss of fame and voice, but instead John knew and understood his mission. He knew the Good News, saying, “So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:29-30).

In John’s life, there is a second lesson of humility to be gleaned. Before John was born, his father, Zechariah, was told that his wife Elizabeth would bear a child. Zechariah scoffed at the idea that this could happen in their old age. As punishment for not trusting God, he was rendered mute until the day that God’s promise came to pass.

So Zechariah prepared for the birth of his son in silence. In that time he seemed to recognize that his voice was not his own, because his first words upon restoring his voice were not “I CAN SPEAK!” Instead, the first words he spoke were prophetic of John’s voice in the wilderness. “And you child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:76-77).

In preparing for the birth of God’s son, Jesus, I may also benefit from some silence to remind me to use my voice for God’s word, and not my own. Appropriately, I am scheduled to attend an annual silent retreat this weekend, something of a tradition I have made for myself at this time of year. In my silence, I plan to reflect on John and Zechariah’s lessons of humility as I prepare my heart for the coming of Christ. I have enjoyed the voice that this blog has given me to speak my own reflections on the Word of God. Now, in celebrating Jesus’ birth and faithfully awaiting his second coming, my voice must lessen while his voice increases. To do so, I will spend the final two weeks of Advent in quiet reflection, and will post again on Christmas Day. This time of year is when God’s Word speaks loudly all around us, and through many of us. And as His voice gets louder, I must remember to soften my own and listen.

Celebrate with me through attentiveness to His Word. Read. Reflect. Pray. Peace and blessing to you in this special and sacred time of the year.

My Lord God, you sent your prophets to foretell the birth of Your Son in the City of David. You sent John the Baptist to herald and prepare for the Word made flesh. May I forever hear and listen to the voices you send to me through Your Holy Spirit, seeking the joy of John in proclaiming the good news of Christ my Savior. Lord, may I follow John’s prompt, declaring in how I live that I must decrease; you must increase. Amen

9 thoughts on “The voice

  1. Tim I have only just got around to reading this, but I find it very moving. I too like John the Baltust for all kinds of reasons. Thankyou for this

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  2. Having lost his voice, Zechariah was in a better position to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. And so, we have his canticle.

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