|Egg tempera and gold leaf on gesso|
"The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand"
Given the circumstances of their time, those who came to hear John the Baptist preach were eager for the prophetic word of their liberation, news of a Messiah who would rescue them from Roman oppression and restore self-rule. They thought that they knew what kind of Kingdom should be "at hand" and the changes that Kingdom would bring about in their lives. For many, these preconceived notions made it impossible for them to comprehend the Kingdom to which John was actually directing them. Their mindset prevented them from really listening to his message and from seeing it embodied in the person and preaching of Jesus of Nazareth. John's message and Jesus' radical invitation to the Kindgom of God in which peace and justice reigned supreme just did not compute.
John's voice cries out in the desert of my soul, a desert of my own making, limited by my own preconceptions and my own preferences. I know what the Kingdom should be. Do I really? How do I create my own "dry and weary land"? How do I pre-empt God by my own human limitations?
Is there a 'crookedness' in my thinking, my desires, my fixations which keeps me from seeing the 'Kingdom', the reign of goodness and truth preached by Jesus? Is there a 'Kingdom at hand' which 'eye has not seen and ear not heard' because I fail to allow God to be God and enter my life in ways I cannot now imagine?
Today I hear John speaking to me about opening the desert of my heart, expanding my imagination, being ready to receive what God has planned for me and for all of us out of an incomparable love.