Today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah paints quite a picture: visual images abound and invite us to embrace the season! Shoots sprouting from stumps, flower buds blossoming, the Spirit of God, wolves and lambs, little children – and more! The prophet stretches our vision, our hearts, to embrace the gift of salvation from God. God’s redemptive love is unfolding in our midst.
Jesus’ Gospel message is a prayer of rejoicing and gratitude, for God is alive in our midst and offering us the personal experience of God’s Life and Love. Jesus encourages childlike simplicity and openness — and joy. He offered this encouraging message to his disciples, reminding them that they were blessed in their experience of Jesus, and responding to the call to follow Him. At that time, little did those disciples realize where Jesus’ call would lead them…
Today’s two scripture readings are to become part of our lives as 21st Century followers of Jesus, as members of the Passionist family embarking on the season of Advent. How blessed we are!! Many magnificent persons were born before the time of Jesus — prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah, kings like David and Solomon; many great people personally witnessed the life and ministry of Jesus, such as our Blessed Mother, Peter, James, John. God has blessed us like the prophets and kings and disciples of old, with the person of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
We ordinary people live now in "the age of Jesus." God’s love is revealed in Jesus; we are saved, we are loved. We have been blessed with faith and a call to discipleship in our needy world.
These days of Advent are a tremendous help to kindle in us the fire of the Spirit: Jesus lives, and loves, today! Let’s carve out some times of quiet, simplicity, and openness during these Advent days to deeply ponder the Scriptures, to quietly delve into the deeper meaning of the sights and sounds and smells of these Holidays — and enter into the unfolding mystery of God’s Love shared with us and our world.
May Advent blessings fill our hearts and lives!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.