I am going to take a few lines from the gospel of the day, which speaks of the start of the ministry of John the Baptist.
A voice of one crying out in the desert
In desert, you have to cry really hard to be heard; still it is very difficult and many a times, there is no surety to be heard.
His invitation to others is to be baptized.
Baptism in those times is by immersing completely in the water. I think definitely it is a sign of complete transformation.
Many a times, we interpret these passages as an invitation to a personal conversion. I surely, agree to it. But I think, in today’s world especially, it is an invitation to a societal conversion; conversion as a society. (Rudi Heredia would explain in this beautiful video that just individuals needn’t necessarily make a just society. He speaks of many other things; this is a point he has spoken in between.)
The question for us, who are the people crying hard in some sorts of deserts (which are those deserts) and who need to be baptized? What type of baptism?
- The women in the society (many countries, and I don’t forget my own mother country) are crying in the deserts called our crowded society. Probably this Chilean song captures that agony.
- Refugees, who suffer from war, poverty, diseases, uncertainties and hostility (in-hospitality). People who suffer from the recent Citizenship amendment bill is definitely in the same category.
- Different kinds of affected people (dalits/tribals in India) who continue to struggle even after ages of reservation to bring them up.
- Various people suffering sexual, physical, emotional, mental abuses inside the religion (it is more shameful as religious leaders are supposed to teach and guide others).
- The cry of the nature.
Probably we need to just ask, what type of baptisms I need and just start that journey, of walking in the direction shown by the prophets in the deserts. Sadly, the irony of today’s desert is that it is full of people; the oppressed are screaming , and yet we don’t listen.