In today’s Gospel we hear the introduction of a man named John who came before Jesus as “avoice crying out in the wilderness” This Gospel’hit me in a very personal way because I was spending the weekend with my Graduate School friends. One of the members of our little family was a man named John. He was our voice crying out in the wilderness.
John Simmons had been a permanent Deacon for twenty years for the Diocese of Louisville. We met during my very first class at St. Meinrad, he was just beginning his second year. We became fast friends over shared jokes and a common love of Liturgy and Spirituality. He was one of the finest homiliests I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Whenever he was invited to give the homily at our student mass it was always something that incorporated not only the readings of the day, but also personal stories about the lives of our classmates he had overheard the day before, woven seemlessly into a perfect tapestry that showed us the way to a greater understanding of the paschal mystery.
Our little student family remained together even after we began to graduate. We would all come back to St. Meinrad for a weekend twice a year just to spend time together. Just before his graduation John found a small lump on his breast bone which turned out to be multiple myeloma. We prayed with him and his wife and joked with them and tried as hard as we could to keep his spirits up as he went through chemo, lost his hair, and had not one but two bone marrow transplants.
And throughout his illness John was always concerned about how we were doing. He eventually went on ahead of us into the heavenly realm. We all figure that he is up there making sure that God doesn’t have such a huge shock when the rest of our little group finally get there.
Today at Mass a man named John who was not the light but prepared us for the light, preaching repentence and readiness for the future. My little Graduate School family heard that gospel in a very personal way, because we could not help but think of our very own John; our very own voice crying out in the wilderness.
Do you have someone in your life who helps you to prepare your way?