Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Lectionary: 587

John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel;

Periodically, perhaps often during the slower months of summer, the news media will scare up a story about space travel and intergalactic exploration. I've seen fanciful drawings of enormous vessels that might carry thousands of people for hundreds of generations to distant, Earth-like exoplanets.

The planned space ship would have all the necessary mechanisms to recycle food, air and water as these elements pass through living bodies, and then back to the dirt from which they came. After a relatively short time, I suppose they would lose contact with the earth-based Internet and their sciences would develop in other directions. No doubt their political and social structures would evolve with the passage of time, as would their religious beliefs.

I wonder how these dreamers plan to deal with sin. It will certainly go with the voyagers. Will some people be allowed luxuries that the rest cannot enjoy? How will they deal with nonconformity and punish misconduct? What pleasures would be permitted that are not addictive to frail human beings? Would they enjoy the freedoms of expression and worship, freedom from want and fear? Will slavery be tolerated when it appears?

The Communists attempted such a system on this planetary spaceship in eastern Europe and Asia, with disastrous consequences. Not only did their leaders oversee the murder of millions of people, they enjoyed none of the four freedoms and wreaked havoc on their environment.

When the Gospel appears in our world it begins with Gabriel's twin announcements to Zechariah and Mary, and the dual promise of forgiveness and deliverance. After John was born his father prophesied, "without fear they will worship in holiness and righteousness all their days. He also promised the boy would give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins....

I find people more than ready to discuss the presence and reality of sin -- in other people. There is wickedness all around us, and will remain with us until the Judgment Day.

I enjoy Don Quixote as much as the next fellow but I'm not into pipe dreams about exoplanets and intergalactic travel. That future looks too much like the past, corrupt and dangerous. 

I anticipate a new day when the Lord will fulfill the promise of John the Baptist. He will give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.