"They did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased...He was speaking to them about John the Baptist." Mt. 17: 12-13
All of us have people in our lives who get under our skin. Almost anything they say makes us defensive and resistive. Though we cannot easily articulate what it is that disturbs us about the other person, it is very real and disabling. Often enough the person who annoys us at every turn is a mirror image of ourselves. If we find ourselves talking too much and not listening carefully enough to others, we resent it when others prattle on and seem not to hear the opinions of others.
On the other hand, it is good to remember that our personality gets under other peoples skin. Not only is this humbling, it can take the edge off our annoyance and calm our spirits. It can also be the first step in recognizing and accepting this reality. When we obsessively try to figure out what it is about ourselves or others that bothers us, it is almost always fruitless. Rather than asking God for insight, we ought to asking for acceptance.
Clearly, John the Baptist got under the skin of the leaders of the Jewish community. To counter his influence, the Pharisees accused him of being too rigid, too judgmental for their tastes, They dismissed his blanket condemnations of their leadership and lifestyle as the ravings of a mad man. Although the Pharisees knew that prophets did not equivocate, were never disingenuous, had little patience with long explanations and silly excuses, they were determined to undermine John's role as a prophet by picking at his religious practices, manner of dress and diet. But Jesus saw through their ploys, and so must we. Advent is a time to fearlessly reexamine our lives and listen to the prophets all around us who want only to help us prepare for our our own rebirth at Christmas.
Today, pray for the gift of fearlessness.