It is striking that Jesus asks six rapid fire questions at the delegates sent by John the Baptist about what they went to see. He is pressing them. He is demanding an answer. He answers his own questions in the rhetorical final question: they went out to see a prophet. At the same time the crowd was drawn out to the desert by the novelty of John the Baptist, who turns out not to be the liberator messiah from Roman oppression and occupation that they yearned for. Yet for Jesus it is a time of decision.

In other words, going out to the desert resonates deeply among the people in their spiritual hearts. For in the desert the people of the Exodus encountered God. To decide for God or to choose the comforts of the world. Each of knows the times when we have chosen comfort over the hard decision for God in our lives. This world is so attractive to us, and we have made ourselves comfortable.

John is a messenger sent to prepare the way of the messiah. This is the fundamental call of the church to evangelization, to prepare the way of the Lord. This is the challenge of our times, not by pulling back inwardly towards ourselves, for this is a kind of comforting not needed in the world today, but actually to to out into the world, which is a spiritual desert.

If confronted by the basic question your faith, how do you answer? Are you hedging? Wavering? Is it complete? How does it look in the shape of your life? What do you come out to church to see and hear on Sundays? How do you bring that home into your family into your life?

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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