15 miles through desert scrub is a long way to walk for a bath. People coming from Jerusalem to see John the Baptist in our Gospel this Sunday certainly had some other motive for making the trek to be baptized in the Jordan. Imagine their surprise when they heard John say “I am not the Christ!”. And yet, even after that message got around, people still flocked to be baptized by John. Why?
They knew that their hearts were hungry for something that couldn’t be found in the city with all its power-brokers, politicians and philosophers. Nor could it be found up north inthe farmlands of Galilee. Nothing in this world, in fact, could provide what they were looking for. In a sense, they knew what Saint Augustine knew, “our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord” and went seeking that relationship in the desert, the place that seems most empty of “this world” and all its passing treasures. They sought baptism as a symbol of new birth and washing free of old sins. They sought John because they wanted to be wrapped up and included in a truth, a hope, and a love greater than this world could provide. Something bigger and more lasting than themselves. In a word, they sought God.
And so they came to John, even if he wasn’t God, because they knew and trusted that John worked for God and because they saw the grace and power of God in him. And when John said that the savior was coming, they heard the authority of the Author of all Creation speaking a promise through him. They stuck around, because they wanted to meet Jesus and be included in the kingdom of truth, goodness, mercy, and life. Imagine their joy at knowing his arrival was so close!
We too have hungry hearts for those same things. The mission of Porto Charities is at the service of that hunger for Jesus. By providing Catholic education, we bring the little children to Jesus for the satisfaction of their hearts and seek to include all in his kingdom.
This week, we can feel inspired by the Gospel to grow in our hunger for God. How? Perhaps some small act of self-denial every day this week. No sugar in your coffee, or no dessert after meals. Make it your personal pilgrimage into the desert, and offer it to God as a small reminder that our life is made for more joy than a Christmas cookie. Ask him to use that Sacrifice to rekindle your desire to seek Jesus and find your rest in Him.