Nobody with nothing out of nowhere – Second Sunday in Advent – Luke 3:1-6

The opening verses of today’s Gospel gives us the ‘A-listers’ of the first century world. You have an emperor, a governor, three tetrarchs and two high priests, all of whom are mentioned by name. At the end of this list, St Luke gives us another name, John, son of Zechariah. St Luke was not just providing a historical basis to his ‘detailed account’ but showing us the plan of salvation of God for us.

Reading these illustrious names and then letting your eyes settle on John, son of Zechariah is like saying in the year 2021, when Joe Biden was the president of the United States of America and Francis was Roman Pontiff and Modi was prime minister of India and Cardinal Oswald was Archbishop of Bombay, the word of the Lord came to Peter from Tardeo! I guess the first reaction of every one would be who is Peter from Tardeo? Sounds like a nobody with nothing out of nowhere. Yet that is how salvation history unfolds.

John was already made a prophet before his birth and now once again that mission is reiterated; ‘the word of the Lord came to John.’ God chooses him, a nobody from nowhere and not the A-listers of his time. God chooses us too, yet we resist our own calling to serve him.

John’s credentials are given to us as that of the son of Zechariah and he is called to set up his office in the wilderness and not in the palace. His mission was in the real world not in an ivory tower. He was to ‘proclaim a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.’ There was no beating around with this mission. God was clear.

How odd, it may seem to many of us, that such a huge task was given to John with neither a title nor a typewriter. In face the very place that God chooses for him to operate sounds like it is doomed to failure; he is to begin in the wilderness. Yet we know that from Abraham, Moses, Elijah and Jesus, the mission of God has begun in the wilderness. The wilderness may not provide you with a sense of security, on the contrary, it makes you feel vulnerable but it is in vulnerability that God appears; it is in vulnerability that we learn to depend on God. With the preaching of John, the wilderness is not a place of desolation but of Hope.

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