Readings for the Second Sunday of Advent begin with another of Isaiah’s wonderful messianic prophecies (Isaiah 11:1-10) about which a book could easily be written. It predicts the rise of the new and perfect king from the “stump of Jesse,” the ancestor from whom the Davidic kings are descended and promises that “the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.” The passage describing the gifts he will receive from the Spirit, (Is 11:2) wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength and fear of the Lord, is seen as the Scriptural basis of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah then foresees a time of justice and peace during the reign of the great king “Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.”(Is 11:6) God’s promise spoken by Isaiah applies to us also. We too live in a time of confusion and uncertainty and need strengthening of our confidence in God’s plan.
Paul then, speaks of seeking encouragement in the Scriptures and God’s charge to “think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus.”(Rom 15:4, 6) This passage Paul is certainly echoes with us today when there is such disharmony and discord among Jesus’ disciples and we need to be reminded of a oneness in Jesus and welcome one another as Jesus welcomes us.
Finally Matthew recalls the words of John the Baptist, the forerunner who hearkens back to Second Isaiah’s words of consolation and promise to the Jews languishing in exile in Babylon. “A voice of one crying out in the desert, “Prepare the way of the Lord, and make straight his paths.” Now is the time to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts…for he is coming.
How do we prepare the way of the Lord, by remembering that Christmas is about God becoming one of us, by celebrating Jesus’ birth with God’s poor, the Anawim, in mind and recalling that blessings are more important than gifts.