Advent 2 - Year C
As we move toward the Feast day of Saint Nicholas on December 6, it is helpful to return to John who heard his call in a desert. John is in the footsteps and advance of many with this identification of desert with receiving the presence of G*D strongly enough to change a life's direction.
Deserts come in all manner of shapes, sizes, and other characteristics. We are led to believe that John's desert was a desert desert with few resources. Emptiness begets filling. Nicholas found his desert in the midst of a rich family and his sustenance in the giving away of many resources. I expect most of us are somewhere in between the deserts of lack and abundance.
Our family's tradition of expected gift-giving migrated from the standard of Christmas (eve or morning) to that of other gift-giving traditions - December 6 (St. Nicholas) or January 6 (Magi). This took the pressure off trying to cram such an expectation into Christmas (Jesus, Mary, Joseph!) which is packed enough and can turn a Freedom of G*D into a desert of dashed expectations. Try it, you might like it.
A change John brings us from the desert of his call is the costliness of forgiveness. It comes with more than a touch of repentance, changed living. Enter the desert of forgiveness to arrive at a life of abundance. Yes, this turns the order of repentance leading to forgiveness on its head. But, why not, since that "works" related order hasn't gotten us very far as either religious or secular communities. It keeps us saint-bound to extraordinary examples and leads away from a priesthood-of-all-believers forgiving willy-nilly and all other kids.