Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday of the First Week of Advent

(Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 8:5-11)

Every so often a municipality advertises a “guns for cash” deal in hopes of reducing the number of firearms within its limits. There is usually a generous response, and the mayor and chief of police are photographed with a stack of guns in the background. A close examination of the guns, however, would reveal that the vast majority are useless! Such programs never make a city safer and may even result in more crime as people, deluded into thinking that there are fewer dangerous firearms around, take less precaution. The reality of “guns for cash” illustrates how the prophecy in the first reading today remains to a good extent an unfulfilled dream.

In one of the most hope-filled passages in all Scripture Isaiah foretells the day when nations will convert their bombs into books or, as he puts it, their “spears into pruning hooks.” It is a time of Messianic fulfillment when Israel’s king will win the favor of the world so that all peoples will accept the adjudications of his God. Christians, of course, see the prophecy partly realized in Jesus, the teacher of peace. But they have to admit that the arms build-down foretold by Isaiah still awaits completion.

Yet we not only hope for a safer world but put our shoulders to the task. We should acknowledge schemes such as “cash for guns” as well-intentioned but naive. Nevertheless, we begin by cultivating peace among ourselves as a way of life. Then we take the effort to bring our peace to other places and cultures. Finally, and most critically, we place our hope for peace not so much in our own but in God’s with constant prayer.