BY: Fr. Gerald Musa.


Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12.

We have begun the season of advent, which reminds us that Christmas is right around the corner. Business people usually begin preparation for Christmas long before the Church. They do so through advertisements of new goods and services. They invite people into their shops to buy and they already calculate how much money they can make from the Christmas season. The season of Christmas is supposed to be a time for reflection on the coming of Jesus and a time for reconciling with God and making peace with people. On the contrary, business and shopping have overshadowed the reason for the season. Sadly, it is not only business people who have hijacked the season, but also criminals who go to steal and commit other crimes in the name of Christmas. The story below is as interesting as it is serious:

It was coming up to Christmas and the Judge was in a jolly frame of mind. “Now then, please tell me, what is the charge against you?” ” I was caught doing my Christmas shopping very early.” replied the man in the dock. “That doesn’t seem like an offence to me. What do you mean by ‘very early? “Well, your Honour.” said the defendant, “It was before the shop was open.” How early do we begin our shopping?

There is no doubt that during every Christmas season, there is some kind of misunderstanding of the celebration that leads to uncontrolled gluttony and drunkenness. In an attempt to celebrate Christmas with enough money, people become wild and wicked in the pursuit of profit and into all kinds of dubious activities. There is a famous slogan to keep in mind during the season: ‘Keep Christ in Christmas. To keep Christ in Christmas we need to pay close attention to the scriptural readings that are related to Christmas so that we can understand the meaning of Christmas in the history of our salvation.

The Wilderness Experience: The message of John the Baptist is fitting for Christmas preparations and we need to reflect more deeply on his message of repentance and conversion of heart. The period of advent (Christmas preparation) is a period of being in the wilderness and a good time to replay the message of John from the wilderness. ‘John appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea…A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight.’ In simple terms, wilderness means a desert or an uninhabited bush. John must have chosen to live and preach in the wilderness because of the spiritual significance of the wilderness. A wilderness has the following qualities:

A Place of Transformation: The wilderness is a place in which people transform. John the Baptist’s life in the desert was a prophecy of the transformation, which will take place at the coming of the Messiah. The dry land would become springs, a pool of water, and a fruitful field when the messiah comes. He will transform the world and make it a better place (Isaiah 41:18; 32:15). The transformation we seek as we prepare for Christmas is the conversion of our hearts.

A Place of Test: In going to the Promised Land, the Lord chose the way of the wilderness for his people as a test of their power to endure. It is a place of temptation (Hebrews 3:8) and where people experience a kind of hardship that will effect a positive change in their lives. There are so many activities in the season of Christmas and so it is a time of many distractions that put our faith to the test.


A Place of Humiliation: The wilderness is also a place of humiliation, which humbles us and qualifies us for the kingdom of God. Thus, the book of Deuteronomy says, ‘Lord took you through the wilderness to humble you (8:2). Christmas preparation reminds us of Christ who humbled himself to live among us. On Calvary, Jesus responded to humiliation with every sense of humility.

Hunger and Thirst: It is a place where people not only experience physical hunger but a deeper hunger, which is spiritual. People who have experienced spiritual hunger can understand the words of David when he exclaimed in the desert of Judah: ‘My soul is thirsty like a dry-weary land without water (Psalm 63). During this Holy season, may our souls thirst for Jesus, the Living Water.

A Place of Prayer: The wilderness is a place to encounter God and this explains why the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai (Numbers 1:1; 9:1). Moses requested Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to go to the wilderness to worship God. Before Jesus commenced his ministry, the spirit drove him into the desert where he prayed and fasted for forty days (Mark 1:12). The season of Advent and Christmas are good for retreats, prayers, and spiritual recreation. The season is a special moment of being in a spiritual wilderness to encounter God.

An Incorruptible Place: The wilderness is also a place where God’s creation (nature) is still at its best. To be in the wilderness during preparation for Christmas means to be distant from the corruption and confusion of the world.

Unpopular: The way to the wilderness is a road less travelled, but those who have chosen the way of the wilderness are those who are not after the things of the world nor after power or popularity.

Solitude: Being in the wilderness also means to stand-alone with none but God in different moments when we are abandoned by family and friends. During this Christmas we should think of people who are in the wilderness of loneliness and spend some time with them: the sick, elderly, the bereaved who have lost spouse or children, the physically challenged, the broken-hearted, and those who are homebound.

A voice crying in the wilderness could be the still small voice, which is inside us (our conscience) calling us to repentance. It is the Spirit of God speaking in the depth of our hearts. It is a voice crying in the wilderness for Justice. It is the voice of truth challenging our old ways of life and calling us to open a new page in our lives.



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