1 And in those days cometh John the Baptist preaching in the desert of Judea. 2 And saying: Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by Isaias the prophet, saying: A voice of one crying in the desert, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. 4 And the same John had his garment of camels' hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins: and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the country about Jordan: 6 And were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 And seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them: Ye brood of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of penance. 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father. For I tell you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doth not yield good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you in the water unto penance, but he that shall come after me, is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire. 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.
From The Gospel as Revealed to Me by Maria Valtorta (Chapter 45.2-3):
45.2While I am watching these things, I notice that the right bank of the Jordan (according to my position) is becoming crowded with people. There are many men dressed in different fashions. Some seem ordinary people, some rich, and there are some who appear to be Pharisees, because their tunics are adorned with fringes and braids.
In the midst of them, standing on a rock, there is a man whom I recognise at once to be the Baptist, although it is the first time I see him. He is speaking to the crowds, and I can assure you that his sermon is not a sweet one. Jesus called1 James and John «the sons of thunder». Well then, what should we call this impetuous orator? John the Baptist deserves the names of thunderbolt, avalanche, earthquake, so impetuous and severe he is in his speech and gestures.
He is announcing the Messiah and exhorting the people to prepare their hearts for His coming, eradicating all obstructions and rectifying their thoughts. But it is a violent and harsh speech. The Precursor does not possess the light hand Jesus used to cure the wounds of hearts. He is a doctor who lays the wound bare, scrutinises it and cuts it mercilessly.
45.3While I am listening — I am not repeating the words, because they are related2 by the Evangelists, but here they are amplified in impetuosity — I see my Jesus proceeding along a path, which is at the edge of the grassy shady strip coasting the Jordan. This rustic road (it is more a path than a road) seems to have been opened by the caravans and the people who throughout years and centuries passed along it to reach a point where it is easy to wade, because the water is very shallow. The path continues on the other side of the river and disappears from sight in the green strip of the other bank.
Jesus is alone. He is walking slowly, coming forward, behind the Baptist. He approaches noiselessly and listens to the thundering voice of the Penitent of the desert, as if He also were one of the many who came to John to be baptised and purified for the coming of the Messiah. There is nothing to distinguish Jesus from the others. His clothes are those of common people, but He has the appearance and handsomeness of a gentleman. There is no divine sign discriminating Him from the crowd.
But it would appear that John perceives a special spirituality emanate from Him. He turns around, and at once identifies the source of the emanation. He descends impulsively from the rocky pulpit and moves quickly towards Jesus, Who has stopped a few yards away from the crowd and is leaning against the trunk of a tree.
From The Gospel as Revealed to Me by Maria Valtorta (Chapter 266.10):
266.10Jesus raises His hand stretching it out in His usual gesture asking for silence and attention when He wants to speak. The crowd become silent at once.
Jesus says: «John is holy and great. Do not consider his way of behaving or the lack of miracles. I solemnly tell you: “He is a great one in the Kingdom of God”. He will appear there in all his grandeur.
Many complain that he was and still is so severe as to appear rude. I tell you solemnly that he has worked like a giant to prepare the ways of the Lord. And he who works like that has no time for softness. Did he not repeat, when he was along the Jordan, the words2 of Isaiah, by which he and the Messiah are prophesied: “Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley” in order to prepare the ways to the Lord and King? He really did more than the whole of Israel to prepare My way! And he who has to lay mountains low and fill in valleys and straighten roads and make ridges become plains can but work rudely, because he was the Precursor and he preceded Me by only a few months and everything was to be done before the Sun was high on the day of Redemption. And this is the time, the Sun is rising to shine on Zion and thence on the whole world. John has prepared the way as he had to do.
What did you go to see in the wilderness? A reed swaying in every direction in the breeze? But what did you go to see? A man clad in fine soft clothes? But those live in the palaces of kings, wearing fine clothes and respected by many servants and courtiers, and they are courtiers themselves of a poor man. There is one here. Ask him whether he is not disgusted with the life at Court and whether he admires the solitary rugged rock that is struck in vain by thunderbolts and scourged by hailstones, and against which silly winds struggle endeavouring to demolish it, while it stands firm, thrusting its whole being towards the sky, with its top proclaiming the joy of altitude, straight as it is and sharp like a rising flame. That is John. That is how Manaen sees him, because he has understood the truth of life and death and he can see grandeur where it really is, even if it be hidden under a wild appearance.
And what did you see in John when you went to see him? A prophet? A saint? I will tell you: He is more than a prophet. He is more than many saints, because he is the one of whom it is written3: “Look, I am going to send my angel to prepare Your way before You”.