daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, 2nd Week of Advent, December 05, 2011
Isa. 35:1-10, Ps. 84, Luke 5:17-26

"The burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water" (Isa. 35:7).

The desert shall bloom. "Waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert" (Isa. 35:6). "I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive; I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together" (Isa. 41:18-19). "Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert ... for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people" (Isa. 43:19-20). "A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God' ... And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together" (Isa. 40:3, 5). All flesh shall see the glory of God together in the desert.

All this is prophecy, speaking in symbolic terms of the salvation which God would fulfill for us in Jesus Christ, in whom we have the remission of our sins and the removal of our guilt, and whose righteousness is imputed to us through our faith in him. He renews the human race through his death and resurrection and gives us from the Father the gift of the Holy Spirit to rejoice our heart and illuminate our mind. In him we are made new men (Eph. 4:22-24), a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). We are like a desert that now blooms and has pools and springs of water-"rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people" (Isa. 43:20). Such is the Christian life. Without Christ we are like a desert; but with him the wilderness and dry land is glad, the desert rejoices and blooms (Isa. 35:1). Christ renews and rejoices us.

In order to experience this more intensely we go to the desert to focus ourselves only on God in faith, hope, and love. In faith, in that in the desert we detach ourselves from all else and focus only on God. In hope, in that we hope only in God in the desert, and long for his grace and glory. And in love, for we detach the affections of our heart from all creatures in the desert, and love God alone with all our heart, mind, and soul (Mark 12:30).

The desert is therefore the place par excellence to encounter God and live with him. John the Baptist went to the desert to prepare the way of the Lord. The Desert Fathers lived in the desert to live with God in a more intense way far from the distractions and temptations of the world. Monks live in the desert, that is, in their monasteries, in their monastic enclosures, far from the world to live a more intense contemplative life, closer to God. The two great classics of spirituality, The Imitation of Christ and the writings of St. John of the Cross, are desert spirituality, the spirituality of leaving all to live only for God.

Everyone is called to this, but there are degrees of radicalism. Some feel called to more radically leave all the pleasures of the world. Monks, celibates, religious, and priests have chosen the more radical path-and they should live this consistently in all the areas of their life-and in this they become an aid and an inspiration for everyone else, for every believer is called to this same desert path, to prepare in the desert the way of the Lord.


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