Sunday Readings: Baruch 5.1-9; Philippians 1.4-6, 8-11; Luke 3.1-6
John the Baptist went about the whole region around the Jordan River preaching. “Turn away from your sins and be baptized. If you repent, God will forgive you.” When people heard John, they remembered what was written in the book of the prophet Isaiah. “A herald’s voice in the desert cries out: ‘Make ready a road for God. Clear a straight path for God. Every valley shall be filled; every mountain and hill shall be made low. The windings shall be made straight and rough ways smooth, and all humankind shall see the salvation of God.’” – Luke 3.1-6
When the Babylonians defeat Israel in 587 B.C., they breach the city walls of Jerusalem, burn and level its homes, tear down the temple, and carry the able-bodied into exile in Babylon. Our Jewish ancestors in faith might have vanished as a people except the priests collected and wrote down their history.
After nearly 50 years in exile, the people might have lost their religious identity without the prophet Second Isaiah, who preached a new exodus, a way home through the wilderness. Enough of the exiles returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, its walls, and temple. New generations heard the stories of God’s creative, faithful, liberating love that the priests had collected and written down, scripture we read to this day.
When people heard John the Baptist preach, “Turn from sin and repent,” to trust God will forgive them, they hear echoes of Second Isaiah’s call to exiled Israelites to come home and become a people again John the Baptist claims people’s hearts, readying them for God’s coming. His preaching signals a turning point in history. The God who made a way through the sea for slaves to escape Egypt and made a way home through the wilderness from exile is about to come
A young woman named Mary makes home in her womb for God to become human. A human family makes a home in which her son, the Son of God, can grow up. God is at home in us and with us.
What roads do you see in your mind when you remember the way home?