Today’s first reading from Isaiah is one of my favorites! I immediately am reminded of the scene from the "Wizard of Oz", where the trembling trio of heroes meanders down the path in the enchanted forest. Borrowing from Isaiah’s collection of animals, the verse in the scene becomes "Lions and lambs and bears, oh my"! Isaiah paints an amazingly comforting description of the peace among natural enemies found in the coming Kingdom of God. Cobras, little children, bears, lions, lambs, wolves all peacefully come together. It’s a "Super Committee" that actually gets along! This wondrous kingdom of peace all emerges from a simple sprout from a stump; the root of Jesse. The reading from Isaiah reminds me that Advent is a time for nurturing the Kingdom of God.
As members of the Passionist family we have a unique role in nurturing the growth of God’s Kingdom. We Passionists experience the love, peace and comforting contradictions (lions and lambs together) of the Kingdom by embracing those who suffer at the foot of the Cross. A few weeks ago I was deployed to a mine disaster by the American Red Cross. Arriving on the scene we were told of two young miners who were crushed to death under a pile of rock and coal. A local pastor welcomed us and then gathered everyone, including the first responders who had fought for hours in vain to rescue the two young men. The pastor’s gentle prayer gathered us together at the foot of the Cross in a way that conveyed God’s love to us in the midst of great suffering. It truly was a Passionist moment of prayer.
As people who embrace the Passionist approach to the Kingdom of God, perhaps we can "enlighten" our eyes and the eyes of others by sharing our experiences at the foot of the Cross on a more frequent basis. If we can do this even for a few minutes at the beginning of every meeting, call or gathering we have in our Passionist family and beyond, we will most certainly be nurturing the growth of the Kingdom for each other and the people we serve!
May the Passion of Jesus be always in our hearts and may our eyes be open to the wonders of the Kingdom of God.
Terry McDevitt, Ph.D. is a member of our Passionist Family who volunteers at the Passionist Assisted Living Community in Louisville, Kentucky.