On this first day of Advent, the first reading of the day and season is the voice of Isaiah who awakens us to the promise of this time of year (Isaiah 2, 1-5). The prophet speaks today just as he did generations before Christ. He speaks to a people in danger of giving up hope on their dreams. Isaiah knows well that their experiences suggest that faith no longer makes sense. They knew the stories of how God had acted in the past, of how God had delivered a people from Egypt, of how God had spared Noah, of how the faith of Abraham had been affirmed by his countless descendants. But for the people of Isaiah’s time, it seemed as if that time had passed and there was little reason to hope any longer for what was still to come.
We are much like the people of Isaiah’s time. We are a people in danger of giving up hope – as many around us have already done. “What’s the use?” they say. “What’s the use of going to church?” and “Why doesn’t God do something?” So, many dreams of peace vanish as we awaken to news once again of another mass shooting. Or the political scene makes us sick to our stomachs. Or Covid seems to never really go away.
Meanwhile, Advent proposes that we invest our hearts, hands, and feet into “active hope” in “God’s days” to come, in our future which God has promised to bless and protect.
Pope Francis, like Isaiah, has spoken out, repeatedly, calling us out of the mess we have made of things and reminding us that this is not the end of the story. Redemption is possible, and in four weeks we are going to proclaim that “Redemption story” once again. Not because it’s what we always do on December 25th, but because we need to and because the joy of that proclamation will give us life and lift us up once again with real hope. With that hope, we can resist going back to the past and dredging up all the hurts and offenses we sometimes love to hang on to. It is then that we can begin to imagine again the real and lasting peace given by the Prince of Peace.
Let us pray. “O God, increase our desire for doing good, so that Christ may find an eager welcome at His coming. May the promise and hope you offer us this season guide our way now, and lead us into your everlasting Kingdom. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”