After providing a litany of very important people in today’s gospel, Luke notes that the “word of the Lord” comes to John in the desert. And who is John, really, compared to all these prominent people? The son of a priest of the Temple who’s gone feral. It seems outrageous that this insignificant person in a place as insignificant as the desert should play a preparatory role in our redemption. Outrageous and consoling. In what way consoling? Well, the same “word of the Lord” might be coming to nobodies like you and me in the middle of the “nowheresvilles” of our lives.

The French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas wrote that “To know God means to know what has to be done.” Like John, when the word of God comes to us, we know what needs to be done: Preach it!

—Fr. Martin Connell, S.J. is Professor of Education at John Carroll University, University Heights, OH,  and Rector of the John Carroll University Jesuit community.