READINGS FOR THE FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT
The daily Advent readings at Mass for the first week of Advent are beautifully arranged and speak of a blessed promise.
The Old Testament readings, from the Prophet Isaiah, describe a bleak world as a fierce Assyrian army heads towards Jerusalem, laying waste towns and cities of Israel and Judea. Yet Isaiah sees something else. Instead of destroying armies, all nations are streaming to God’s mountain and “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” (Isaiah 2,1-5) Wars end and a frightened humanity knows peace.
The nations will come to God’s mountain, Jerusalem, where the temple stands, the prophet says. They will be fed a rich banquet (Wednesday), there the poor will triumph (Thursday), there the blind will see (Friday). The people will be safe on this rock, where children play around the cobra’s den, and the lion and the lamb lie down together (Tuesday). The prophet’s imagery of promised peace challenges the way we see things..
In the gospels for the 1st week Jesus Christ fulfills the Isaian prophecies. The nations have their representation in the Roman centurion who humbly approaches Jesus in Capernaum. (Monday) Jesus praises the childlike; little as they are they will enter the kingdom of heaven. (Tuesday) He feeds a multitude on the mountain.(Wednesday) His kingdom is built on rock. (Thursday) He gives sight to the blind that they may find their way. (Friday)
Many of our Advent readings are from the gospel of Matthew, who portrays Jesus teaching on a mountain (Isaiah’s favorite symbol). His miracles affect all. Jesus is the new temple, the Presence of God, Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus gives us hope beyond human hope.
Mary and Joseph,
Help us see what you and the prophets saw. Amen.