Several weeks ago I ate at an Asian buffet with my fiancé and his family. A few minutes into the meal our server dropped a pile of fortune cookies onto the table, and I immediately grabbed the closest one, curious to read the fortune inside. After ripping open the wrapper and snapping the cookie in half, I pulled out the piece of paper and read the words aloud to his family.
It was one of those generic fortunes like “You will be happy” which elicited a round of sarcastic “Nice fortune” comments from everyone at the table. Feeling slightly disappointed that it wasn’t overly thought provoking or laugh inducing, I tossed the paper back on the table and kept eating.
Now what might have happened if my fortune had contained words like those cried out from the voice in the First Reading:
In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. . . . Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!"
Or words like those spoken by Saint John the Baptist?
After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
To be perfectly honest, I would have been excited to find a Scripture passage instead of a generic fortune—“Great idea for evangelization!” I’d think—but I would not have given that piece of paper much thought. I mean, it’s just a piece of paper, right?
Thankfully, the Word of God is not just a piece of paper. It’s alive and it communicates infinitely more than even the most cleverly worded fortune.
So my challenge for you is this: take the Word of God seriously. Spend time talking and listening to Him in prayer. And do whatever you can to prepare the way of the Lord.
Joan Nagel is a Registered Dietitian who recently moved to the Twin Cities, and in her spare time she can be found planning her July 2015 wedding, reading, writing, and drinking coffee. You can find out more about her here.