Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

(Isaiah 11: 1-10, Luke 10:21-24)

The prison minister related the kind of story she hears over and over again. A small black man, who apparently just arrived in the city, was wrongly accused of purse-snatching. That the fellow was hardly aware of what was happening was so obvious that the arraigning judge released him on reconnaissance. But the poor man had nowhere to go. He was homeless and almost penniless.

Even if we believe that the legal system is fair and functional, we should realize that such misfortunes as what befell the black man in the story happen with some regularity. Especially those without money to pay lawyer fees are vulnerable to miscarriages of justice. There are also abuses at the other end of the spectrum. The rich sometimes “get away with murder” because their attorneys know how to manipulate the system.

In the first reading today the prophet Isaiah announces that these injustices are coming to an end. A Messiah, he says, will be born to establish righteousness throughout the land. He will hear the cases of the poor along with the rich. He will prosecute villains and allow the innocent to walk with heads high. As a result, we will become a truly peaceful society with the equivalent of Asians and Africans, capitalists and communists, surgeons and street sweepers all taking care of one another. The good news of Advent is that this vision has been realized in Jesus of Nazareth and that it will be universalized shortly upon his return in glory.