“God does not exist to answer our prayers, but by our prayers we come to discern the mind of God”
(Gospel Text Lk 1:57-66, 80)
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
"No. He will be called John."
But they answered her,
"There is no one among your relatives who has this name."
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name,"
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
"What, then, will this child be?"
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.
The purpose for which God created you may require that you walk to a different drumbeat than other people. For John the Baptist, which we celebrate his birth in today’s gospel reading, it required that he live in the desert far from normal human contact and civilization. God’s purpose for his life dictated even the minutest details of how he would dress and eat, since he had to dress in rough animal skin and eat the vegetarian food of locusts and wild honey. He adopted a lifestyle that would enhance his calling in life. He did not go for any unnecessary trappings that would weigh him down or encumber his life.
To discern what God is calling us to be we need to cultivate some sort of “desert” in our lives where we can listen to God. We need to make Samuel’s words to the Lord, “Speak, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3;10) part of our daily prayer. And, to be faithful to the call of God, we need the courage and discipline to keep away from any choices or lifestyle that does not help us along the path to which God has called us.
John the Baptist is great today not just because God called him to a special vocation but because he walked faithfully in the path that leads to the goal that God had set for him.
Our life’s work is to wake up and make God’s glorious dream for us a reality.