December 13, 2020: A Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent, Year B

John 1:6-8, 19-28

“Who are you? . . .” “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord.’”( John 1:25-26)

“You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” So says Augustine. Today’s Gospel seems to throb with that restlessness, Jesus. The restlessness at the heart of every person and that bears the question: Who are you? When John the Baptist was asked, he answered his questioners from the depths of his own experience and spirituality: I am the voice of one crying out “make straight the way of the Lord.” Before that, he answered those who inquired of him his identity only in negatives: I am not the Christ. I am not Elijah. I am not the Prophet. It was perfectly reasonable that the next question would be: Well then, who are you? And this is where it gets interesting.

It’s the type of question that is almost unanswerable. Sure, we can answer with what we do: I’m a doctor. I’m a lawyer. But that doesn’t answer the question, “Who are you?” We’re all more than our work or profession. We’re so much more than what our mind can tell us about who we are. It seems John knew this: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert…” I am not just what I do. My being cries out the Presence of One who pulses in every cell of my body, mind, spirit. In that Presence is the essence of who I am. How do you shrink such an Essence into human words? It can only be lived. And in living the Truth of God present within each cell, I become, like John, one crying out from the depths of my desert: make straight the way of the Lord. Not out there in another being. Lord Jesus, make straight your way within my own desert. Be the living source of all that I do. When what I do flows from your infinite energy pulsing deep within, I am a small “I am” within the great I AM.

This is who we really are, isn’t it, Jesus? No wonder this is Gaudete Sunday. A Sunday to rejoice. You have made us for yourself, O God. Our identity is completely interwoven with yours. And we find out who we are not by trying to figure it out intellectually. We find it out by letting go into your immense Presence and yielding to your gentle yet powerful hand that would weave your life and ours into one and pour it out in love on all. Our minds don’t have to grasp it. Only our spirit which breathes “yes” into every invitation to find you. Our hearts are restless until they rest in you. And when each of us can surrender to your presence in our own being and in others in love and service, we are voice crying out in the desert: all is Christ. Rejoice!