I was sitting at one of my first summer jobs, as a counselor at a day camp. One of my co-workers turned to me and exclaimed, “You’re wearing odd socks.” Everyone looked at my feet and indeed, my socks were odd. Not terribly so and not so most people would notice. One sock had three stripes, two red with a blue in between, the other had three red stripes. But now I had to spend the rest of the day with odd socks.
You can imagine how odd I found it when one of the kids opened a birthday gift and it was not one, but three, mismatched socks, three socks entirely different and deliberately so. Since then I have noticed that it is a bit of a fashion statement to wear mismatched socks. How odd.
John the Baptist not only had a peculiar diet he dressed oddly. He dressed in such a way that you couldn’t help but notice. And once people noticed him they had to listen to what he had to say. I am sure that if he had worn socks they would have been odd. I sometimes wonder what his mother Elizabeth would have thought about his odd attire and diet.
Essentially, John was calling people to behave oddly. He was asking people to go against the trend. He said, come out into the wilderness and be baptized. In other words, don’t go to the priest, don’t go to the temple, and don’t do what the established order tells you to do. He also calls on people to repent, to turn around, to be different.
I’m glad that kids today don’t care if their socks are odd. It is my hope that they also won’t care if people tell them not to bother about their spiritual journey. I’m glad that this odd thing we’ve been called to in the Church is about being different. It’s about a high standard of love and justice.