by Fr. Tommy Lane
This season of Advent is a time of particular grace for us. Jesus comes to us with a different grace in each season; in Advent in the grace of joyful expectation, at Christmas with the joy of knowing that God has become one of us, during Lent with the grace of repentance as we meditate on Jesus’ Passion and during Easter with the grace of hope as we look forward to sharing in Jesus’ resurrection.
The Scripture readings today highlight the joyful expectation of this season of Advent. The first reading from Isaiah is a prophecy of a bud blossoming from the stump of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, and Jesus will be the bud that will blossom so Jesus will be called Son of David. The reading tells us that Jesus, the shoot growing from the roots of Jesse, will possess the Spirit in six ways;
“a Spirit of wisdom and understanding.
a Spirit of counsel and of strength
a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord.” (Isa 11:2)
When we received the Sacrament of Confirmation, the bishop prayed that we receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit which are these six gifts which the prophecy in Isaiah said Jesus would possess and also the gift of piety added in the Greek translation. So during Confirmation the bishop prays that we may have the Spirit that filled Jesus. During this season of Advent let us pray that the gifts of the Holy Spirit we received at Confirmation may transform us to become more like Jesus who had the fullness of the Spirit.
The reading goes on to describe the time of Jesus as a time of justice and peace. That peace is described using the most beautiful imagery of animals who are friends with each other instead of being afraid of each other.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox. (Isa 11:6-7)
That is a prophecy of a new world led by a little child, a world transformed by the coming of Jesus. Jesus offers each of us the possibility of transforming our lives. We do not have to be controlled by the past; Jesus wants us to think in a new way about ourselves and our world. That new way of thinking means that what is impossible for men is possible for God as we see in the image of all animals at peace together. Pray to Jesus every day that his life may come deeply to us and that we may be filled afresh with the gifts of the Spirit. We receive the life of Jesus in a special way in the sacraments. Receive the life Jesus is offering to you that you may be filled with joyful expectation during this season of Advent.