“Hair of the camel furnished a course raiment
to your blessed members; leather your girdle;
you drink the cold spring, food for you wild honey
mingled with locusts.
All other prophets, in their hearts divining,
sang of the light coming to the people;
Your finger touched the Lamb of God
who takes sin from the world.
None has arisen in the mighty spaces
of round earth’s borders holier than John was:
great was his grace who poured the mystic waters
O’er the Redeemer.”
By Paul, deacon of Apulia, 8th Century
John the Baptist remains enigmatic to us. I try to picture what it would be like to encounter him today. We would probably write him off as being radical or even mad in his singular focus on repentance and eccentric in his rough appearance and desert dwelling. Like most prophets, John saw something before anyone else had whiffed its scent: the Messiah was in their midst and the time to prepare for his coming was now! The cry of his voice echoed through souls in need of conversion and in hearts longing for their spiritual king. We still are in need of repentance for our sins and a true king to worship. May we heed John’s call – ever ancient, ever new – to indeed prepare the way of the Lord.