Friday, June 22, 2018

The Sharp Edge

In John the Baptist, we celebrate the greatest of the prophets, a man whom history has now sanctified in Scripture, statue, painting, and song.

But what might it have been like to know him in time?

Prophets generally make us uncomfortable. Like John, they shake up their family’s routine, sometimes rendering their parents speechless and their neighbors astounded. They might dress oddly, rant a bit, and follow a strange diet. They hang out in inhospitable places. Prophets are the oddities on the edge of our striving for comfort. Someone like John the Baptist would not be the most popular member of your country club.

And yet John the Baptist’s call is one given, in its own particular measure, to every disciple of Christ:

     - Go to the sharp edge of your existence. That is where you will find the Divine Presence.
     - Go by way of the inner desert, continually learning the aridity of all that is not God.
     - Shed the trappings that separate you from the Holy – be they the adoration of wealth, power, or vanity.
     -Then speak the Truth you have become.

The poet Mary Oliver put it simply this way: 

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

Where will we find the prophets today? At the borders of everything. But they will be building bridges, not walls. They will be inviting the rest of us out of the quagmire of our comfort zones to come see Christ rising on the bright distance of our courage. Today’s prophets, like John, will be pointing away from themselves to the place where Christ waits with His counter-cultural Gospel – among those who are poor, weakened by the world, among the marginalized who live at life’s sharp edge where Grace is most accessible because it is all there is.

The wonderful Baptist, robed in his camel hair, eating locusts, shouting and throwing people into the Jordan! The greatest of the prophets calls down the hills of time to us today: “Behold One is coming after me. Prepare your hearts! Do not miss Him!”

~ Renee Yann, RSM

Sister Renee Yann, RSM, D.Min, is a writer, poet, and speaker on topics of spirituality, mission, and ethical business practice. After twenty years in teaching and social justice ministry, she served for over thirty years in various mission-related roles in Mercy Health System of Southeastern Pennsylvania, completing her ministry as Chief Mission Integration Officer for AmeriHealth Caritas Health Plans. Sister Renee has a daily blog which can be followed at: She is also reachable on Twitter at @ReneeYann, RSM 


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