John the Baptist who stars in today’s gospel was a prophet. He saw and was indignant at the injustice, corruption and inauthenticity that he saw in the institutions of his time. He went into the desert to lament and tell the truth and the people poured out from the city to hear him. They were struck to the heart by his truthfulness and asked him what they should do.
His authority was grounded in his humility. He did not seek celebrity but announced that he was only a forerunner of a greater prophet who would baptize directly, interiorly, with the Holy Spirit.
We need this spirit of prophecy – truth-telling and clarity of vision – even in the personal interactions of our lives. In our work and social responsibilities this spirit takes a different expression; but even in the ordinary encounters of daily life we need to be grounded in a courage of truth-telling and a passion of clear-
Surprisingly this courage arises not from our own strength of will or heroism but our other-centredness and the humility that is true, integrated self-knowledge. So often our personal and social relations are governed by fear. Our egocentricity conceals a deep insecurity. Some people carry off the pretence better than others. But whenever we evade the power of truth we betray our own fear of exposure.
In meditation we become truth-full. The influence of love released in the work of attention erodes the fear. We become free and we find the courage to speak, think and relate to others as free beings. This, not predicting the future, is the deeper meaning of prophecy. It is the freedom of humility.
Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals.
Laurence Freeman OSB - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Read de First Sunday of Advent's reflection here.