”..is there a divine plan?”..what do you think?..a divine plan or the divine plan?.. ..the divine plan, not set definitively in stone like the 10 commandments, but planted in our hearts, for us to put the plan into action by preparing the way for Jesus.. a divinely uncertain way I would like to suggest, full of risk, fraught with danger, but through which we become bridge builders, go betweens twixt ourselves & God.. ..& today we celebrate feast of the John the Baptist who prepared way ground & hearts for coming of Jesus .. only saint whose standing in Catholicism is high enough to nudge Jesus to one side on a Sunday, when every Sunday[ except for this one every 7yrs ] is designated the Day of the Lord.. what he did to merit that standing 2000yrs ago, is what you & I are chosen & entrusted with today..we are not religious commentators but spiritual gardeners..called to feed & weed..
“the Lord called me before I was born..” ; Lord have mercy “he said to me “you are my servant”.. ;Christ have mercy “ I will make you the light of the nations..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..how often each day do we thank God for all the blessings we have received down the years?..are we blessed or are we blessed?..”I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord; my God was my strength”..words of appreciation & gratitude from prophet Isaiah chosen selected..King David similarily in 2nd rdg in Gods favour “I have selected David, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose” Elizabeth in gospel is “shown so great a kindness” & Mary herself “the Almighty has done great things for me” & yet it is all too good to be true, to be real & to be true..in each case there was a rock bottom moment, when the divine plan was about to be shipwrecked & the crew member lost at sea..a Gethsemane moment..when the divine plan failed & the go between himself [Jesus] wanted out; “Father, take this cup of suffering from me” he was spent exhausted faithless bereft, where he could no longer pray..emptied wordless lifeless..& no plan B..it was then only then in a kenosis, a self emptying moment, that the Holy Spirit was able to get in, to work in him like never before; uninterrupted unconditional entry into a broken heart & a defeated person..as someone said to me powerfully recently “I’ve got to learn to be less personal” to cooperate with the divine satnav rather than spiritual equivalent of worn out well thumbed treasured AA road map we have always sworn by to get from A to B..less self centred more other centred..”I am not the one you imagine me to be. I am not fit to undo his sandal” Isaiahs Gethsemane moment of despair “woe to me..I am ruined, for I am a man of unclean lips”; Davids violation of Bathsheba & his despicable plot to have her husband Uriah killed..Elizabeths years of self pity self recrimination under stigma of barrenness..stigmata wounds of a womans crucifixion; to be childless..& Zechariah’s personal moment in temple..”do not be afraid Zechariah, your prayer has been heard” the angels wonderfully intimate divine explanation of the plan..of Johns coming & his calling into ministry..& then Zechariah’s pause moment..“how can I be sure of this? I am an old man & my wife is well on in years” in questioning God & the divine plan he lost his power of speech..how many of us find it difficult, even impossible, to speak of God & of our faith journey? because we too confront Jesus, cross examine him & the alleged divine plan “how can this come about since I am a virgin?” childless, spiritually barren..since I am father of two growing difficult teenagers at Ampleforth College; an 82yr old widow desperately lonely; a chef, a gardener, a lawyer with two increasingly dependent difficult parents..Gethsemane June 2018..”how can I cope?” Marys personal challenge to God & the angel go-between, & the divine answer, then & now, echoes consistently truthfully.. genuine & sincere “the Holy Spirit will cover you with its shadow..you will bear a Son” she John David Isaiah Elizabeth all God-bearers..”with child” pregnant glowing carrying bringing to birth not just the divine plan but the divine person, Christ himself..in person in disguise..”his name is John” “let it be done to me according to your word” your plan.. it is the “yes” rather than the but, the however, or the question mark that allows the Holy Spirit to have her “her” way with you..her way..hokmah, the feminine person of God; the caretaker, the preparer of the way, the bridgebuilder, the go between..a moment to notice to recognise appreciate your own role, your own calling, to be John the Baptist..the divine plan works through the most ordinary among us..young & old, unfaithful & barren, & especially at this time, as we remember Kit Mangles, the frightened & the isolated..” & indeed the hand of the Lord was with him” in his Gethsemane bless him “& he lived out in the wilderness until the day, a week last Friday, he appeared openly [ to Jesus ]” a few moments before “whilst I was thinking I have toiled in vain, I have exhausted myself for nothing” & as Jesus greeted his prodigal son Kit at the gate of paradise, he would have voiced his divine understanding & loving welcome home..a profound moment of grace..an amended plan & the destination safely reached..”I will make you [Kit, & now you & I] the light of the nations”..”to go ahead of the Lord to prepare his ways before him” ..not one way but his many ways..our compass set on due north.. [John the Baptist Lk 1;57-66.80]