Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
As humans we are naturally on the lookout for signs and signals of others’ behavior. Will my Mom and Dad be in a good mood when I ask to use the car? Is my boss going to be receptive to my proposal? Is the market favorable today? Will the coming snow make me cancel Christmas plans? Will he or she say “yes”?
Observant Jews were constantly on the watch for signs of the coming Messiah. When will he come? What will he be like? Prophets and seers waited and worried. Imagine how the prophetic words in the days of King Ahaz were received—a virgin with child? to be named Immanuel? Centuries after Ahaz and Isaiah that prophecy would be fulfilled in ways no one could imagine.
What about you and me? Can we allow our imaginations to expect the impossible from God? Do I have enough trust that the Lord will work wonders in my own life—can I hand over my own ideas and plans to the Lord? Can I open my heart in trust? Can I say “Let it be done!” as Mary did? That is the Advent challenge each and every year.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
O Key of David, O royal power of Israel, controlling at your will the gate of heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness. Let your captive people free!