Monday, December 17, 2018
"The crowds asked John the Baptist, 'What should we do?' He said to them in reply, 'Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.' Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, 'Teacher, what should we do?' He answered them 'Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.' " -[Luke 3: 10-18].
John the Baptist came before Jesus, and he was a prophet who foretold Jesus' coming. John the Baptist said, "I am baptizing you with water, but One mightier that I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." -[ Luke 3:16].
The constant presence of fire signaling the presence of God began in the Old Testament, with the Ark of the Covenant containing the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments, writ upon a stone tablet and handed down to Moses, were the embodiment of God and His Word.
It was God who commanded Moses in Sinai regarding how to construct the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was a box of acacia wood, plated with gold. It had rings at the four corners, which encircled the poles used to carry the Ark on four men's shoulders.
The tablet was stored in the Ark of the Covenant. The sacred tablet traveled with Moses and his Chosen People wherever they went. Exodus 13:20-22 reports, "The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light. . . The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people."
Even in Exodus 6: 7, God tells His people, "I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God." In other words, in Covenant and in actual presence, God never leaves our side.
In this Scripture in Luke, Joh the Baptist explains that by dousing followers in water, he is washing away their sins. But, when Jesus comes, He will baptize you with fire.
This fire is the Holy Spirit, the Being and presence of Jesus after His crucifixion, death and Ascension. Jesus Himself explained that the Holy Spirit is the Advocate, by reassuring His disciples, "If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans. . . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching." -[John 14: 15-23].
Of course, John the Baptist spoke indirectly, and the people were confused. They had not witnessed the whole of Jesus' life; in fact, Jesus had not even appeared yet. And so the people asked, "Now, what should we do?"
It seems that John's advice was so utterly simple. But I have been around people my whole life who had no understanding of "What To Do."
When I was growing upas a small girl, I was cold, and I asked my mother for a sweater. But she told me, "You are not cold!" And she did not allow me the key to go inside and fetch a sweater. And when I was fed 4-day old food, I was told, "Eat this, we will give you nothing else."
Jesus' teachings are to love one another. Simple as that. We had sweaters in our house, but I was not allowed a sweater, and so I shivered. We had fresh food in our house, but I was forced to eat stale food, and so I went hungry because my father said, "Do NOT feed her."
The Spirit of Truth is not a mystical, unapproachable doctrine. The Truth is God's Word, and the basis of God's Word is to "Love one's neighbor as oneself."
The Truth is no farther than one's own lips and hands and daily activities. It is told in Deuteronomy 30:14, "But the Word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may obey it."
The Truth is NOT the greed in our modern, industrialized society, in how we show off, and count up, how many cashmere sweaters we own, how many designer boots, or pieces of jewelry. The Truth IS when we have two cloaks and we give one away.
The Truth is when we have food, and we share with our neighbors, who don't have enough means to make it through the end of the month, and so, they go hungry.
The Truth is NOT using our greater power to extort or intimidate or crush those who have less. People who do this are not "winners" or more "successful". They do not speak the Truth, they egregiously lie with the falsity of greed, abuse of power, and temporal worldly gain.
And Love is the surest path to Joy! St. Paul, in Ephesians, says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: Rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all."
(c) Spiritual Devotional 2018. All Rights Reserved.
[Related Postings: "The Voice of One", 12/5/16; "The Relevance of Baptism", 1/12/15; "Baptized With the Holy Spirit", 1/11/13; "Prepare the Way", 12/10/12 ].