Camel’s hair? Locusts and wild honey? What would Martha Stewart say? But do you really think John would care one wit what she or anyone else thought of him?

Here’s a wild man from the desert speaking truth to power, calling all to repentance. And his approval ratings were at 90%! But John didn’t care about ratings. He was listening to another Voice.

In the stillness of the desert John learned who he was and who he wasn’t. A prophet? Yes. A Messiah? No! To know who we are and who we are not is real wisdom. To speak truth to power and be willing to pay the price for it is the mark of true freedom. Few of us get there.

What holds us back? An aversion to locusts? Disdain for itchy camel’s hair? Keeping our ratings at 90%? There are 1000 ways to squelch the Spirit. What’s yours?

—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ, is a retreat master, writer, and spiritual director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL. His weekly video reflections can be seen at








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