Now that we are in the second week of Advent, the Lord’s message is getting a little more direct. We are still enjoying all the beautiful imagery that has been shared with us by Isaiah, the great prophet whose imagination has captured our minds and hearts in these early days of Advent. But now Isaiah rightly shares with us another side of his prophetic message, a side that reveals no small amount of frustration with all those in his audience (and all of us today, too!) who simply don’t pay attention to what he is saying. Imagine this fiery prophet, crying out to the crowds, who simply walk by as if they have better things to do – not unlike the mobs of shoppers in the stores and on the web today. We hear but do not understand. We are busy in our business and don’t have time to take seriously the word of God reveals to us through his prophet.
Hear these words then, dear reader:
I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go. If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea; your descendants would be like the sand, and those born of your stock like its grains…
All we have to do is listen to the Lord and learn from all that He is teaching us! All we have to do is listen and learn, and we shall prosper like a flowing river!
The message is no less forceful in today’s Gospel from Matthew:
We played the flute for you, but you did not dance,
we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ For John came
neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed
by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.
The frustration can even be heard in the voice of Jesus himself. The Gospel is given to us, the wisdom of God is handed to us on a platter, and we are too busy looking for the latest bargain, the latest discount, so that we can store up things that will never last! And then we wonder why there is so little peace on earth and turmoil in our own land. The key is to listen carefully to the Lord, hear his words, and take them seriously. It’s not too late!
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of Saint Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.