Thursday in the Third Week of Advent

Scripture Readings: Is 54:1-10; Lk 7:24-30 


“What did you go out to the desert to see?”  Monks go out to the desert; the cloister of the monastery is a desert, spare, silent, removed.  At every turn of his early life, the young monk is asked, “What do you seek?”  Later, the wise older monk will always, like Saint Bernard did, ask himself, “Why have you come here?”  To ask the question over and over means that you can’t answer it once and for all. “What did you go out to the desert to seek?” What you thought you were going out to seek is almost always not at all what you actually find. “I will allure her now,” Hosea writes, “lead her into the wilderness”; and Jeremiah, for all who were lured, “You deceived me, Lord, and I let myself be deceived.”  Greater than a prophet, John was the Lure of God.  The point of the Lure is to deceive the prey. What you went out to see, the Lure, is not the Gift you’re meant to have. You go out to see, to hear, a voice preparing the way.  Arrived, though, and seeing, you say, “But who is this coming up from the desert, leaning on her Lover?”   In the desert where you have gone, you see yourself and all who with you truly seek, supported as a wife by her husband on their wedding day, by the one behind the voice, from whose voice in the garden you had once and forever after hid in fear. “What did you go out to the desert to see?”  But what we see is ourselves a garden, blooming, abundant and flower-full, shame forgotten, blame not recalled, gathered, reclaimed, made firm in the great tenderness of our God who warmly, wombly loves us. The blessed Lure and Deceit of God, the voice, the desert, curiosity, temptation, the Infant in a Manger, the Trap; the prize, a wedding day, another’s voice, “Arise my friend, my beautiful one, and come; let me see your face, hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, your face is lovely; be with me content to be the least in the Kingdom of God.”