by Bob Wickizer

Who Are You?
Bob Wickizer
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; I Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28
3 Advent

Lifelong friends, Ben and Ytsak found themselves strangely drawn like hundreds of others to walk the day's journey down to Bethany to hear the new prophet preach. Stories about the wild man living alone in the pastures around the Jordan circulated through Jerusalem faster than the local gossip. Some said he had parted the Jordan and walked across on dry land just like Elijah. Others told wild stories of miraculous healings and even the change of heart of a cantankerous mother-in-law. Who was this wild man they wondered as they hiked the long road down to the Jordan valley.

Ben and Ytsak could not have been more different. As the son of a wealthy olive merchant, Ben had the luxury of studying the Torah and becoming a scribe. Ytsak's family subsisted since his day-laborer father died in an accident the year before. As the oldest son, Ytsak was forced to work in the fields but he always enjoyed learning how to read and write from his friend Ben as often as they could get together in the evenings.

Ben had taught Ytsak all the books of the Torah so that in about three years of hard work they both knew every line, every word by heart. Not content with the books of Moses, the young men continued their nightly study of the Hebrew writings, the psalms and the books they loved most, the prophets.

The words of Amos and Jeremiah thundered through the ages in the young men's hearts. It always seemed the prophets could speak the truth so clearly when everyone else seemed so blind from the truth and far away from their God. Amos excoriated the wealthy telling them to their face that their wealth was made on the backs of the poor - that they had failed miserably to live up to the demands for justice and mercy the Torah place on them. No shrinking violet, the young Jeremiah tells the elite of Jerusalem how their faith has fallen away by compar ...

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