Isaiah’s Dream for All
Each of this Sunday’s readings is so rich in meaning for us. The season of Advent brings together so many images of harmonious creation and human activity as God created them. Isaiah the prophet describes the dream of a “peaceable kingdom” of primal paradise where the animals did not follow their predatory instincts. Images of the “wolf and the lamb,” “a child playing near a cobra’s den,” and natural enemies living in harmony with each other. The lyrics to Glenn Rudolph’s “The Dream Isaiah Saw” inspire us: “Little child whose bed is straw, take new lodgings in my heart. Bring the dream Isaiah saw” described in the last line of the three verses: “life redeemed from fang and claw, justice purifying law, and knowledge, wisdom, worship, awe.” Oh, how we need this today!
In the second reading, Paul prays for the community challenged by universal salvation—both Jews and Gentiles. He asks for three different expressions of unity: “to think in harmony,” to be in “one accord,” and to glorify God in “one voice.” This unity does not obliterate the differences between Jew and Gentile; it is a unity in diversity. Oh, how we need this today!
And in the Gospel, John the Baptist’s preaching is filled with passionate fire—a cry from the heart calling for life-altering change. What in today’s world would arouse John the Baptist’s wrath today? What in our lives can be considered as worthy wheat and as chaff to be swept up and tossed into the fire?
Does the dream of Isaiah with its pairing of opposites offer hope in our own day, when there is so much division in the world, in government, and even in the Church?
Can we restore a “peaceable kingdom?” Can we see “difference” as a blessing, as an opportunity rather than a threat? And can we gather some kindling and throw it on the fire for justice? We too can be led by the little child whose bed is straw. May Jesus take new lodgings in our heart this Advent!