for Sunday, December 5, 2010
The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him—the Prophet Isaiah starts us
pondering about salvation and what it can mean in our lives. It is fairly
easy to understand what it might mean to the Jewish people at the time of
Jesus. Many were longing for a Savior who would come and free them from
subjugation to the Romans. Two millennia later, we can see that such a
longing for salvation does not have anything to do with us directly.
If the Spirit of the Lord rests upon Jesus, what does He do for us? If
Jesus does nothing for us, then Advent means nothing. Why would we long
for the presence of the Lord Jesus if He does nothing for us? Already in
the prophets, there was a growing understanding that salvation was
something bigger than just liberation for the Chosen People. We have so
many prophets who seem to imply a salvation for every race and every
people. This longing for something more is expressed by Isaiah in today's
reading: There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the
earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea.
On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the
Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.
Can we imagine an earth in which every creature knows the Lord in the same
way that water covers the sea? Can we imagine an earth with no harm or
ruin within it? This is surely not the earth on which we are living at
this moment in history! Probably those who live in war zones, those who
live in places where nature continues to wreak havoc, do long for this kind
of Savior. Those of us who live in more prosperous lands often just want
to isolate ourselves from all the problems of the earth. We don't seem to
have a good imagination at all when it comes to solving the wars and
conflicts of this world.
We can respond to this first reading with the comment of St. Paul in his
letter to the Romans: May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you
to think in harmony with one another. What a dream that would be! At
present we cannot even speak with one another very well. How different our
world would be if we could think in harmony with one another!
We should be able to hear the voice of John the Baptist very strongly on
this Second Sunday of Advent: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee
from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
We are that brood of vipers. We don't need to point the finger at anyone
else. We have not been able to think in harmony, we have not been able to
work together to help one another, we have not found ways in which we
willingly give up some of what we have so that others can have a bit more
than at present.
John the Baptist is clear that our prayers and our running to God will do
us no good at all unless we produce the fruits of our repentance. Those
fruits and peace and harmony and seeking the good of others above our own
Advent challenges us to seek the Savior. Jesus can save us from ourselves
but only if we follow Him and love all others and spend our lives doing
good for them. May it be so in our lives.
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: