My friends, as we continue our Advent journey to Christmas, preparing ourselves for the great gift of Jesus, among us, and with us, for that is what “Emmanuel” means, the readings for this Sunday are all about “justice,” and making sure that it is available to all—especially to the least among us. And it would seem that we humans would know how to bestow justice by keeping our eyes on our brother, Jesus. None of this should be a surprise to us, as the Scriptures again and again, tell us that this is what Jesus was about. And if we wonder whether or not we can do this, we are told that Jesus’ Spirit will give us “wisdom” to know how to act justly in our world.
The other operative word then, in today’s Scriptures, along with “justice,” is “Spirit.” Isaiah, in the first reading, describing the coming of the Messiah says, “The Spirit of God will rest there [with Jesus, that is]. This is really an affirmation that Jesus will not only be human— “a shoot will sprout from…Jesse,” but indeed, Jesus will be of God.
Let’s look further then to the Scriptures today, for this “straight” path toward living “justly” that Isaiah foretold the Baptist would preach about. The prophet Isaiah gives us the beautiful reading envisioning a time when, the calf and the lion, the wolf and the lamb, will lie down together, in peace. We can hardly imagine such a thing –it is almost as if we turned on the morning news and heard that Vladimir Putin had decided to declare peace with Ukraine, and we might understandably think that we had heard it wrong! But this is exactly what Isaiah is prophesying about today, even imploring us to consider. We must envision what we hope for to make it possible, to happen.
This reminds me of when I have in the past, misplaced something, and I keep looking, and just can’t find it. Robert usually tells me in these cases, “Kathy you have to believe it is there!” When I approach it this way—believing, I often find what I am looking for in the same place I was looking previously, to no avail. And for us all, friends, we have to believe that the “goodness” we hope for, in our world, our nation, our city, our families, can actually come about—and very likely, it will need to come through us! And when I say, “us,” I mean, all of us, each doing our part—together!
That is what our brother Jesus was all about in his life—preaching and teaching that we could, “move mountains,” –be our best selves if we wanted to, and truly believed that it was possible. Advent is all about encouraging us, each one of us, that the time is now! John, in the gospel today, basically tells us that the time is now to reform our lives and Jesus continues this message throughout his earthly life—we don’t have to wait till a future time when all will come to fruition—our baptisms call us to allow, “justice to flower” –and to “judge wisely” what is of God and what is not, and then, to do our part.
And even though our journey now in Advent, and throughout our lives won’t always be, “black and white” –easy, that is, Paul in his letter to the Romans today, assures us that,” “The Spirit of Christ Jesus [will allow us] “to live in perfect harmony,” by doing the part, in our world, that is ours to do.
And friends, this will all come about as Isaiah continues to prophesy today— “the poor will be judged with justice and the lands afflicted will be given their rights.” In our own time, we can apply these words saying, women will break that glass ceiling ever more consistently, in Church and State, the LGBTQ+ community will come to be accepted, more and more, the wisdom of the elderly will be more and more appreciated and sought out, and the poor in body, mind and spirit will be nurtured and cared for more and more. We could go on. We may not see it in our lifetimes, but we can trust the words here as the mission of Jesus was foretold by John, with the call to us, to do the same!
So, my friends, I have thrown a lot at us to consider today, and we can’t as individuals do it all, but if we were to do nothing more than to wrap our hearts around the idea that God thought enough of us to send Jesus to show us the way, to make peace with those we can’t seem to make peace with, to be kind, merciful, patient, just in our dealings with others—ultimately, loving, not only when that is easy, but more so, when it is hard, then we will have made a good job of Advent and prepared well for so great a gift as Jesus! Amen? Amen!