A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
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.
In today’s first reading, Isaiah boldly claims what the expected Messiah will bring the world. The lion and calf with walk together with a child to guide them, children will play with poisonous snakes. Justice will come for the poor and the ruthless. The order of violence will be turned on its head – fear will no longer guide us and those who have oppressed will finally see their day. These scenes fill us with peace and make for wonderful displays and banners. They also make us pause with desire that these images become reality.
It’s easy to imagine the people I am frustrated by, people I know personally and in the news. These are people I am afraid of, or who have hurt me and who I am resentful towards. Each of us has these people in our lives. Through the prophet, God asks us move towards peace. St. Ignatius of Loyola, recognizing that some of us might not feel ready to ask for that grace, suggests we can at least pray for the desire to move towards peace.
Lord, as I prepare for the coming of your Son Jesus at Christmas, help me to see with joy the places where your kingdom has already come. In those places and hearts, even in my own home and my own heart, not yet at peace, by your grace may you enter. Share with us the gifts of the Spirit, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and strength, through Him who we await this Advent, Christ our Lord. Amen.
—Mike Tedone, SJ