June 24th, 2004
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Today is the Solemnity of John the Baptist. The readings foreshadow
John's birth, attest to John's role, and recount his naming. In a broader
sense they show God's presence in our lives from the earliest moments.
In early June I was able to attend a papal mass. It was an interesting experience.
There were people present who would applaud at any phrase the pope uttered.
There was graffiti on the way to the service condemning the pope. The majority
of people went on with their lives steering clear of the celebration considering
it irrelevant to their lives.
I am convinced the world must have been much the same for John. Some followers
showing undiscerning adoration, others wanting his head on a platter, while
the majority just felt that he wasn't "worth going out of the way for."
Here are two men with clear messages. Their messages call for reform. Their
messages go against the prevailing culture.
When I think about it, would I have welcomed John the Baptist, any more than
I welcome someone with a religious message who comes to my front door?
What messages do we let into our life? Some listen to National Public Radio.
Some watch Fox News. Some listen to hip-hop. We generally take in what we
want to take in and avoid what we want to avoid.
When am I really ready to hear? Seeing and hearing the pope was more moving
than I had anticipated. My experience has been that the more profound moments
in my life occurred when I found myself predisposed but not scripted. My
prayer today is for openness and for the willingness to listen and learn.
I ask for the gift of being able to identify the bearer of the message.
to the writer of this reflection.
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