I want to live in the world that the prophets spoke about – especially the prophet Isaiah! All through this Advent season we will hear from the prophets about what the Lord has promised and about what the Lord is going to do! We’ll hear Isaiah describe the mountain of the Lord, where the Lord will provide “a feast of rich food and choice wines;” where he will “destroy death forever” and “wipe the tears from all faces.” During Advent we will hear of a world in which the eyes of the blind will be opened, and how the lowly will find joy and the lame will leap about. We will hear of a world in which peace reigns and animals that were once predator and prey to one another now live in peace with one another! We will hear of lands that are dry and arid being transformed into lush gardens! I want to live in the world that the prophets talked about!
If I can’t live in that world, however, I would be happy enough simply to believe, without a doubt, that such a world could actually exist! So would many, many other people – people who live with the daily challenge of finding enough to eat; people for whom a day without violence and bloodshed is but a dream; people who struggle with life threatening illnesses or conditions; people who are abused in so many ways; people who fear for their lives or for the lives of their loved ones. Undoubtedly, countless other people all over this earth want to believe – with all their hearts – that such a world, such a time, could truly exist.
This desire to believe is the very heart and soul of the Advent season! For two thousand years this desire, this hunger, this longing is what gives shape to this season of hope and expectation. With held breath we wait, we watch, for what God has promised us in Jesus Christ. The readings and the prayers of the Liturgy during Advent are the words the Church gives us to help us give voice to this ancient desire of ours, this endless hunger for a life and a world like the ones the prophets spoke about.
We give voice to this hope when we gather together in a darkened church, light the candles of the wreath, watch the light increase and the darkness decrease, and cry out again for Christ to come, to return quickly, and to bring in its fullness the kingdom he came to establish! We gather together and we pray that God will once again remember the ancient promises to us for a world in which we will “walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5); when “the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb” (Isaiah 11:6); and when we “will meet with joy and gladness, [and] sorrow and mourning will flee” (Isaiah 35:10).
May this hope, this desire, this longing, be renewed in all of us this Advent Season.
Two websites where parishes and individuals can find resources for prayer and reflection during this season are that of Liturgy Training Publications and the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. Both of these organizations provide solid, inspiring resources for Advent!