The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight—” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mk 1: 1-5)

Still today, we are called to make a “confession of sins,” and to be “immersed” (i.e., “baptized”) in “repentance” (a change of mind or change of focus), whenever we “prepare the way of the Lord” and “make His paths straight” in our hearts. I am called to recognize the crooked paths of “sin” (“amartia” or “missing the mark”), exposing and naming these beasts by name, – just as Adam “named” the wild animals (Gen 2: 19-20), – so that I can steer clear of them in the future and move forward on “the way of the Lord.” In order to do this; in order to make this “confession of sins,” I need to step out into the “wilderness” that is my burdened conscience where these beasts dwell, and take a good look at them.

Today, as those of us on the Older Calendar celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, I say thank You, Lord, for sending us his “voice,” which continues to “cry out” in our “wilderness.” Let me not fear or avoid its beasts today, but expose them and “confess my sins,” that I may move forward on Your way. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew the right Spirit within me.” (Ps 50: 10, LXX)