Monday of the First Week of Advent
(Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 8:5-11)
At the end of World War II the British air force almost completely destroyed a German city. There was, however, a Catholic church with a tall steeple still standing. The pastor of the church looking from the steeple saw a single bomber flying near. He thought that the plane would target the church and quickly evacuated the premises. Sure enough, the church was bombed but the priest saved his life.
War is terrible. It destroys the spirit as well as the body. It is dismissive to physical structures, no matter their value or significance. For this reason Isaiah in today’s first readings looks toward war’s end. He foresees the time when peace will reign perpetually on the earth. Then, all nations will come to Jerusalem to learn God’s righteous ways. To hasten the coming of that time, Isaiah says, Jews have to walk in God’s ways today.
During Advent we Christians take to heart Isaiah’s message. We express aloud our yearning for lasting peace and strive to purify our lives of hatred. But we realize that eternal peace is not in the end our doing. We have a part to play for sure, but Christ is the one who is to transform our world. He will turn the tables on the hostile and promote clean-hearted. We raise our heads along with our hopes for his coming.