Scripture: Is.11:1-10; Ps.71; Rom.15:4-9; Matt.3:1-12.
Composition of Place: I see myself standing humbly before the Lord who loves me.
Grace I/we seek: I ask for the Grace of a more open heart to the world around me and especially to those who are suffering and in need; to walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice.
Here, Isaiah, gives us a portrait of the Messiah, of Christ. As we contemplate it, we can see that it is also a portrait of the new life of grace in us, in our world. We could take all of the qualities, all gifts of the Holy Spirit, (for the spirit of the Lord rests upon him), and pray that these gifts, this life of the Holy Spirit, might come to indwell in us. They all have a relational character, so we might ask how they direct to renew our own commitments and our relationships. Especially important here is the grace of reconciliation for the things we have done or said or omitted to do. The ways in which we have not honoured the life of the Spirit, or in some way refused to be a bearer of the life of the Kingdom for others and for our world.
Isaiah also gives us a portrait of a new type of society in which there is justice, equity, corruption and evil are not tolerated; a society where there is a desire for peace and the flourishing that comes as its gift. This is not a utopian dream, but a Christian reality grasped in hope; we pray for it each time we pray the Lord’s prayer, ‘your kingdom come.’
Almost in reverse of the prophet’s vision, we can turn the fertile planes into deserts and the teeming seas into dead and stagnant pools of human waste. Now, God asks us to see an ecological healing; a vision of a renewed creation which is truly God’s gift to us, ‘our common home’.
Paul gives Isaiah’s portrait a face: the face and the person of Christ. He asks us to let our lives ‘give glory to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ What better way can we find to do this in those acts of compassion and love, those healing and restoring acts, when we leave ourselves behind and live for the good of the other, for the good of the plant we are allowed to call home.
The Gospel also gives us a portrait: the prophet in whom all the prophets meet, John the Baptist. One who recognised the Lord even from the womb, and even there, bore witness to him. John reminds us that God is free even to act beyond God’s covenant for there is no boundary to God’s love, justice and mercy. Knowing Christ always comes with a mission, to make him known, (To show the way to God); to offer his gift to all women and men, especially the poor and outcast, indeed the whole of creation itself.
With John, with all who come to announce the kairos of the Lord, it is always a moment of decision and judgement. We cannot be neutral in the presence of Christ. He asks us to choose, and so we need the grace, ‘to judge wisely the things of earth and hold firm to things of heaven’.
The psalm speaks about the responsibility of the King or the government to protect the poor and the vulnerable from exploitative economic forces and the violence which they do.
Advent invites us to choose and to set out upon a new way, the way of the Lord, the way into the world that waits and longs for him even when it does not yet know him.