pointing where?

Take a moment to consider this question: Who or what does your life point to?
Another way of asking the same question might be: What or whom do you live for?

Some people live for their family. Others (often without intending this) have put their life’s emphasis and focus on their career and material security. In a self-centred society many people live for themselves trying to create, reform or re-invent themselves.

A human life cannot be lived happily with a self-focus. We are made to be signs that point somewhere else – not just to our family and work, but to God. A healthy happy human person will be a sign-post that points to God.

In today’s gospel for this second Sunday of Advent we meet John the Baptist whose life pointed to Jesus Christ. Many works of art depict John pointing to Jesus as in the image below.

Whereas the culture of our time encourages people to be motivated to seek their own prestige and success, John the Baptist points away from himself, and clearly indicates the centrality of the person of Jesus

He was, above all else, the first witness to Jesus. Already he had his own support group – perhaps even a bit of a fan club. But the moment he recognised the presence of Jesus, he directed his own followers away from himself, and towards Jesus. “He must increase and I must decrease.”

John was a formidable presence since he was unafraid of those who might oppose the truth. As Pope Benedict reminds us,  he was prepared to denounce transgressions even when this meant paying the price of his life. He was committed to Truth.We find our own health and happiness in this present life (and eternally) when we let go of self-concern, and look to Jesus.

I like too the crooked / straight lines image at the end of this gospel passage quoting the prophet Isaiah anticipating the mission of John the Baptist:

“A voice of one crying out in the desert:
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

The clarity of Christian teaching can make it seem that the ideal life of faith is a straight line from start to finish, a narrow and direct path from birth to God without hesitation, deviation or repetition.

But the reality of my life is far from this simple and direct path. I have hesitated to move with Jesus so often. I have deviated from the clear callings that I have received and I have habitually repeated mistakes and sins that I should have learnt from the first time.

There is a line often used in theology that reminds me of the complexity of human life and gives me great hope: “God writes straight crooked lines”.

Thanks be to God!

An Invitation:
    • Take a moment to look back at what you consider to be the great mistakes or sins of your life and appreciate how God has written straight with your crooked lines.
    • If a stranger viewed your life for a week, what would they think you considered to be most important. Are you happy with their conclusion?
    • Try living today with the conscious decision to live every moment, action, word and encounter lived in the gaze of Jesus for his glory.

9 Responses to "pointing where?"
  1. Following the path ahead, not knowing where it leads but trusting that God has made it straight and smooth if I listen to his directions and not be tempted to veer off on my own .
    I will walk with Jesus today doing all that I can for the Glory of His Kingdom. Thank you Father John

  2. It is so hard to keep Jesus in my life and the things I do on a daily basis. I do my best but I fear it is not enough. I love my family and all they do but I see the things some of them do or don’t do and I mentally criticize them when in fact they are probably on a straighter line than I am. God give me strength that I might not judge others but look at myself and ask am I trying to live the straight line?

  3. when i returned to my faith i reflected my life was like
    walking down a dark road with a torch at my back.i still struggle
    but what you said god straightens crooked lines is so true for me
    fall down get up dont let go thank you

  4. My day had started with lethargy and inward thoughts. Your piece has reversed that Fr John, thank you. I am going to go out from here and ‘John Baptist’ the day!

  5. The Supreme Love, and preparation, that God put into His plan of Salvation for humanity, from the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and still ahead of us now, may mean that we are still in Biblical Times – Waiting for the Second Coming.
    In the meantime, By His Grace, God sustains us perfectly in every way. I am so grateful to know, that: “He will have pity on the weak”. Ps 71 Oh to improve!

  6. I often find myself living head down, get over this obstacles and prepare for the next, crossing bridges as I come to them. Then I look up (or more precisely someone or something metaphorically grabs my head and twists it up), I see the stars and am reminded I’m on a pilgrimage and not fighting an on-going senseless battle.

    Thanks John the kiwi.

  7. Nothing matters with God’s irresistible Grace He will and shall
    take care of all my problems. Trust Him for I speak from experience

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