Sunday Gospel Reflection 8/25
As John entered the city, people turned to look at him for he was a stranger, and their eyes opened wide at sight of his hermit clothes. They were awed, for this was the first time they had seen a hermit in camel and goatskin clothes. Within a few minutes a great crowd followed him. As he paused to return their friendly gaze, they pushed closer to stare at him. He sat down and smiled. They drew nearer and sat down beside him. Finally, an elderly man ventured to ask, “Are you a hermit because you love God, or because you hate people and the things of the world?”
This was the opening John desired. Stifling a chuckle, he answered, “I am a hermit because I love God and the Commandments. And now since you have asked me about my life I'll tell you why I am here. I have come to warn you of the necessity of keeping the Commandments that God gave through Moses.
“I understand you have been listening to a false philosophy taught you by Herod. Does he think he is God, for only God can change the Commandments! Abraham didn't dare change one word – then why does Herod attempt to make divine laws as if they had the seal of God?
“Who is this Herod? I'll tell you who he is. He is a man in great ignorance in regard to the laws of Scripture, and in his stupidity he is leading you astray. For you to accept his views is to bow before him as though he were God. If you follow him you are actually stealing from God!
“But I am here to tell you how you may return to your Creator. You must do penance because your sin is deadly. Only in that way will you once again find favor with God. Penance is actually doing something that will take its toll upon the body senses, for through the senses you have turned away from God. Many of you are so covered with sin that you need a thorough cleansing. Suppose then, since you experience trepidation of body even at the thought of entering into a stream of water, that we use that as a means of penance – baptism of water over your body to show God you are sorry for your sins.”
Several others joined the old man as he went through the streets shouting joyfully, “Come, listen to the hermit-man who is brave enough to take a stand against Herod. What will our king do to such an opponent? Will he cast a hermit of God into a dungeon? Come, listen to him, he has news for you!”
Hundreds of people hurried to the center of town, where John now stood on a high porch from where he could view the sea of faces forming beneath him. His thundering words concerning the laws of God dislodged the darkness of spiritual characters from many human souls, and he watched the devils depart for their caverns of hell. One by one the people realized the cleansing of their darkened minds and they wept tears of joy as the true meaning of God's Commandments returned to them.
This was an excerpt from Cora Evans’ book, The Refugee from Heaven, selected as a reflection for the Sunday Gospel passage Luke 13:22-30.