I am walking. It’s only been a few days now. But I am tired. There is no place to sit in this desert, in this wilderness. I look out ahead and can barely see the goal. I must keep going. My heart and my hope drive me on. As I look ahead, I stumble. Another’s hand pulls me up.
We are walking. It seems for only a few minutes. A finger points toward the goal and we trudge ahead with heads higher. No longer alone, there is more energy in the quest. Is the vision ahead sharper? As it clears, I turn and share what I see. And beside me and behind me are multitudes moving ahead on the widening road. In amazement I stop, never realizing there were so many. They glance at me and smile. I turn again and point toward the brightness. We walk without water or food, nourished with hope. More energy!
My awareness expands and I see more walkers ahead of me. Some stumbling, others bending to help up. All moving toward the expanding light on the horizon. There is an air of excitement and I begin to forget my weariness. My arms are linked with others on both sides now and my heart skips with a beat of joy. Yes, we are moving ahead. The sky lightens. The path smoothens! The goal is clearer. All of us, all, can do it. We are strong! We can see! We walk together!
Isaiah painted his prophetic picture thousands of years ago using words. The vision he sketched was almost the same. It was the universal scene of a lost paradise. His prophetic finger pointed to it for all to see. Wolves and lambs, lions and calves, cows and bears, babies and cobras, all peacefully coexisting. All creation in its primordial harmony! In its midst is the “source and summit” of it all—in a person. That person is the embodiment of all that is good and true and beautiful. That person is overflowing with the Spirit of God!
Isaiah paints the amazing picture. John the Baptist shows the way, the path that opens up toward that universal paradise. His prophetic finger is his voice. It is strong and clear! He shouts out, “Repent!” Turn! You are walking in the wrong direction! Don’t depend on any label to keep you on the right road. Neither race nor religion, position or lack of it, nor any title offers a guarantee. He invites all to walk through the water of repentance into the Promised Land.
The One whom John pointed to has come and has also pointed with prophetic finger to the path of total happiness. Jesus not only showed the way to that goal, but was and is the Way. He spoke and showed us and led us on the path that satisfies our universal hunger and thirst for happiness. He was totally open and filled with the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. He embodied them all. He not only was filled with the Spirit and the fire of these gifts himself, but invited us to a share in the same. The waters of baptism are the waters Jesus has invited us to walk through. The gifts of the Spirit are then showered upon us. We all receive the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.
Let us join in the opening prayer for today’s liturgy. “God of power and mercy … remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him.” Then, we join with him in the great pilgrimage, the great walk to the light and vision of paradise regained.
Patricia DeGroot, OblSB
Almighty and merciful God,
may no earthly undertaking hinder those
who set out in haste to meet your Son,
but may our learning of heavenly wisdom
gain us admittance to his company.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
—Collect for the 2nd Sunday of Advent from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, ICEL. All rights reserved.