December 4, 2022
Is 11:1-10; Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12
Today: Annual Navaho Holiday Collection after Communion
Besides anticipating all the cool stuff we will get from Santa Clause, December also brings another message of glad tidings: “The Kingdom of God is at hand!” The world we are all longing for, consciously or not, is well within reach. If fact it has been for 2000 years. The Kingdom we long for is as good and even better than anything we could ever imagine!
The first reading today from the prophet Isaiah (11:1-10) gives us a wonderful sense of just how fabulous this new Kingdom will be. [Highlight some key points from the reading].
(The Lord) shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.
On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.
The Kingdom is a big petting zoo! What could be better than to just walk outside every morning, breathing in the fresh air, perfectly rested in an agile, pain free body and just stroll among all the animals? Many of which we’ve never seen before or even imagined. Strolling along with our favorite people, some of whom we have just met. And that is the world that Jesus came to establish or rather, restore. It sounds a lot like the Garden of Eden in Genesis……………. Of course, there’s a catch!!
Did you notice the ways of the Lord’s actions? The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. (Awe of the Lord).
These sound eerily like the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we received, or had sealed within us, in the Sacrament of Confirmation. That’s the catch! We are intricately woven into the restoration of the Kingdom. The world will be peaceful and properly ordered when we accept the real demands of discipleship. To turn the world back, right-side up, we need to call from deep within us something of the John the Baptist that was described in today’s gospel. John the Baptist was a different kind of hombre. His message, his clothes, his food was something from out of the wilderness. He carried a different type of tone and intensity in his very being. Something dramatic and unseen before was imminent.
After John’s baptism of repentance would come the Lord’s baptism of the Spirit. A new dimension the likes of which humans had not yet experienced.
This world that Isaiah envisions and Jesus declares ‘is at hand’ is the world that our grandchildren should inherit. Before you completely blow off what I just said, keep in mind I’m not relying on human intelligence or volition. This is a world declared by God. It comes with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. God’s very wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and awesomeness. These are all foreseen and promised by God and His messengers. The only variable is us. (As I’m writing this down I’m listening to Christmas carols. Joy to the World. Let earth RECEIVE her King… Have we? Will we? The only variable is us.
Today inserted in the bulletin is an examination of conscience using the Spiritual Works of Mercy as a guide. This can help us clarify some very tangible ways to restore God’s world to something more worthy of our grandchildren.
Let us now proceed with this Holy movement toward oneness and be especially open to how the Spirit is trying to stretch us a bit during this holy season.