Gospel Reflection for December 8, 2019, 2nd Sunday of Advent
Sunday Readings: Isaiah 2.1-5; Romans 13.11-14; Matthew 23.37-44
Ours are not the only troubled times. The prophet Isaiah describes in Sunday’s first reading an ideal king and a peaceable kin*dom. Small wonder, Isaiah lives in the years following the Assyria army’s destruction of the northern kingdom in 722 B.C.E. He lives 20 years later as another Assyrian general, Sennacherib, invades the southern kingdom and lays siege to Jerusalem. The army leaves terrible devastation behind. Archaeological digs find 289 village sites where people lived before this invasion and only 85 sites a century later.
In the face of so much threat and devastation, Isaiah imagines a sprout from the stump of Jesse, a leader filled with the Spirit of God, who lives and breathes wisdom and understanding, who acts with counsel and strength, who gathers knowledge, and experiences awe in God’s presence. Isaiah is confident that God is faithful and will send a Spirit-led leader who will judge the poor with justice and treat them fairly. Under this leader there will be no harm or ruin on God’s holy mountain. The wolf will live with the lamb, the calf with the lion. The weaned child will lay a hand on the adder’s lair.
Isaiah’s vision makes me ask, “What am I doing with my gifts of the Spirit?” How am I leading? Too often political organizers and too many religious leaders set us against each other. To prevail, they sharpen their messages and remove any middle ground where we might listen to our hearts and use our heads. Up or down, for or against, yes or no. It takes mature human beings to hold seeming opposites in tension without letting go of either. It takes wisdom to handle complexity, to keep on seeking understanding in all the places and in all hearts where it lives, to recognize we always have more to learn.
What seeming opposites have you held in tension and discovered something new?
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