I want to do a little Bible Study 101. It’s too easy to hear (or read) a text of Scripture so often that we lose its significance or we are closed to new possibilities. Let me show you how a change in punctuation leads to a change of meaning which can enrich our spiritual lives.
Remember, punctuation is a modern construct! Ancient texts written in Hebrew, Aramaic and koine Greek do not have punctuation. When John the Baptist begins to preach to people and calling for them to look at their lives, he refers to himself and quotes from the Prophet Isaiah. But did he say:
(1) the voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord.
(2) the voice of one crying: in the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.
Bible texts usually print and we usually hear the first line. But what if John is telling them (and us) that to prepare a place for God in your life, you need to listen to that voice but you have to listen in a different place. Maybe due to our crazed, time consumed, frenetic, overly consumer, ridiculously secular, obsessive, harsh, text filled, non-communicative world of ours, we need to get away from all the noise, find a place of “wilderness” and make a space for God in our lives.
This season is not about saccharine Hallmark TV Christmas films, or running about trying to find the perfect gift for that imperfect person in your life. It is about preparing for the one who has come in history and whom we believe will once again come to make things right. It is about redemption and belief in a God who has loved us more than we are able to love each other. It is about preparing for God’s presence in your life. You might need to go to a quiet desolate spot – figuratively speaking – to hear that voice. But I guarantee you: the trip is worth it.
– Fr. Joe