As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight”
Isaiah’s oracle is how Mark’s Gospel begins – straight into a face off with the powers of the land. Isaiah’s prophecy finds flesh with the arrival of John the Baptist. He calls the people out of their day to day stupor – out into the wilderness to face the challenge of renewal of heart and mind and a new beginning. In this way, they prepare for the coming of One who will unite them into a new way of community where the Hebrew gift of shalom can find full expression.
No more dissemblance from political ivory towers, no more cheating, no more cruelty, no more cheap bartering with human lives, no more stingy self-interest stealing our life-force. Instead, a repentance of loving-kindness and generous hospitality for the sake of one another and the stranger in our midst points to a promised source of abundant life.