The prophet Isaiah has had a lot to say during the season of Advent and today, when Christians celebrate the feast of the Nativity of Jesus the Christ, there are four different possibilities from the Roman Catholic lectionary for reflection on those prophecies. Whether from the vigil Mass, the Mass during the night, at dawn or during the day today, this prolific book of the Hebrew Scriptures is a call to attention, recognition and renewal in God’s love. My favorite is always IS 9:1-6, which speaks of the light seen by the people who have been walking in darkness. I should remember to read it more often for the sheer poetry of it. This morning two things stand out.
- For a child is born to us…They name him Wonder Counselor…Prince of Peace…I have received news of four new babies recently with names I had never or rarely heard before. I have saved the texts with pictures of these wise-looking beings shining out from my phone. I look at and share them often to the delight of everyone. They are unspoiled as yet by this world’s dangers and woes and it is my prayer that they will be instruments of peace and love as they grow.
- The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this! Zeal is such an active word and although I am reminded by this last line of the quoted text that it is God’s work to bring the peace of Isaiah’s vision, it seems so contagious as to be irrepressible – flowing out to “infect” all those who catch its meaning. Here are some dictionary synonyms for the word zeal: passion, ardor, love, fervor, fire, avidity, devotion, enthusiasm, eagerness, keenness, appetite, relish, gusto, vigor, energy, intensity… How is it possible that those who experience God’s zeal for this world’s ongoing creation would be able to remain indifferent to the ongoing achievement of God’s task?
So on we go. Basking in whatever the celebrations of our faith traditions bring to us during this holiday season, may we be renewed in optimism and hope for our world and confident that we are equal to the task of peace and universal love if we are willing to join with all others in this holy and essential work.