Today's readings come from the prophet Isaiah, the second letter of St. Peter and Gospel of Jesus Christ according to St. Mark. The dual theme of wonder at the heavenly kingdom and preparing for our judgement for entry into the kingdom is present throughout today's readings, but the Gospel introduces the ministry of St. John the Baptist, who really emodies the concept of making preparation for the kingdom.
St. John the Baptist has always been a particular challenge for me. How often do we disregard the rantings and ravings of people who live on the margin of society? Have you ever taken someone seriously who refused to muster any kind of "normal" appearance? We often look to people who, for lack of a better term, embody an "edgy" demeanor, but would St. John actually fit that description?
The desert wasn't SoHo, or the East Village, or Hell's Kitchen or any of these other "marginal" places that were made "cool" because they were on the edge of existence. I find it hard to believe that honey and locusts was the ancient world's equivalent to today "fad diets" that get written up in fashion magazines and other media of popular culture. His message isn't something that would be considered "trendy" by today's standards - just look at how Tim Tebow gets mocked, and he's about as mainstream in appreance as you can get!
I don't know that God would send another St. John to warn us... but if he did, I wonder if I would listen. I always wonder if I had been around 2,000 years ago if I would have been receptive to his message or to that of Jesus for that matter - or if I would have been too comfortable with how things are. I have the advantage of our Lord having died for my sins already. His message has already been revealed. But I see how I fail to live up to His message on a daily basis, so how could I possibly be ready when He does return?
I am very thankful that I have the opportunity to know what I'm supposed to do. I am very thankful that I have a means to seek forgiveness for when I do wrong. I am very thankful for hope, that even someone as disobedient and recalcitrant as me has an opportunity to partake in the wonders of Kingdom of God.