All nations will stream to God’s mountain for instruction. “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” (Isaiah 2,1-5) Wars are no more; a fragmented humanity becomes one. Quite a claim, considering that Assyrian armies were laying waste the towns and cities of Israel and Judea as he spoke. But God’s promise trumps all human conquests.
For Isaiah, the mountain of the Lord is Jerusalem, on which the Jewish temple is built. All nations will come there; they will be fed a rich banquet (Wednesday), there the poor will triumph (Thursday), the blind will see (Friday); it’s the rock where people dwell safely, where children play around the cobra’s den, and the lion and the lamb lie down together (Tuesday). The prophet’s imagery is strikingly beautiful.
The Gospels for the 1st week point to the fulfillment of the Isaian prophecies in Jesus Christ. The Roman centurion humbly approaching Jesus in Capernaum represents all the nations that will come to him. (Monday) Jesus praises the childlike, who will enter the kingdom of heaven. (Tuesday) He feeds a multitude on the mountain.(Wednesday) He affirms that his kingdom will be built on rock. (Thursday) He gives sight to the blind. (Friday)
Matthew’s gospel, source of many of our Advent readings, portrays Jesus teaching on a mountain (Isaiah’s favorite symbol) and his miracles benefit all who come. He is the new temple, the new Presence of God, Emmanuel, God with us, who raises our hope beyond human hope.
Here’s a schedule of the readings for the First Week of Advent:
Monday . Isaiah 4,2-6: God will be present on Mount Sion. Matthew 8:5-11: The Roman centurion at Capernaum
Tuesday: Isaiah 11:1-10: Promise of a king, a shoot from the stump of Jesus. The Spirit of the Lord is upon him. Luke 10:21-24: God reveals himself to little ones. Blessed are the eyes that see. what you see.
Wednesday: Isaiah 25: 6-10: A banquet of rich food is offered on this mountain. Matthew 15:29-37: Feeding of multitude.
Thursday: Isaiah 26:1-6: On the day of the Lord the poor will triumph. Matthew 7: 21-24-27: Build your house on rock.
Friday: Isaiah 29:17-24: The deaf shall hear and the blind shall see. Matthew 9:27-31: Jesus gives two blind men sight.
Saturday: Isaiah 30:19-21-23-26 People are healed and given an abundance of gifts. Matthew 9:35; 10:1, 5, 6-8 Jesus pities the lost sheep and sends his disciples to cure, to raise the dead and give life.