This Advent I thought I’d highlight a few texts from the Lectionary. Maybe it will work out to be a daily visit. I’ll call upon the Scripture commentary of others from time to time. Maybe Neil will have a moment to bring an offering or two.
At the Mass for the first weekday of Advent, we get the prophet previewing a future of universal salvation and the triumph of peace over war. Thius is also the first reading for the first Advent Sunday Mass, but only in cycle A. Wait till next year. Or go to Mass today to hear …
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come,
The mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
That he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the LORD!
Verses 2 through 5 serve as a canticle for Morning Prayer in the Roman Rite. It was covered by a series of commentaries by Pope John Paul II, His assessment:
At the heart of Isaiah’s “vision” rises Mount Zion, which speaking figuratively will rise above all the other mountains, since it is God’s dwelling place and so the place of contact with heaven (cf. I Kgs 8,22-53). From here according to Isaiah’s saying in 60, 1-6, a light will emanate that will rend and disperse the darkness and toward it will move processions of nations from every corner of the earth.
The power of attraction of Zion is based on two realities that emanate from the Holy Mountain of Jerusalem: the Law and the Word of the Lord. In truth, they constitute a single reality which is the source of life, light and peace, an expression of the mystery of the Lord and of his will. When the nations reach the summit of Zion where the temple of God rises, then the miracle will take place which humanity has always awaited and for which it longs. The peoples will drop their weapons which will then be collected and made into tools for peaceful work: swords will be beaten into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks. Thus will dawn a horizon of peace, of shalôm in Hebrew (cf. Is 60,17), a word particularly cherished by Messianic theology. At last the curtain falls forever on war and hatred.
That mountain is also visited for God’s banquet celebrating the end of death in chapter 25.
Passages like Isaiah 2 are one reason why I’m glad the Roman Rite is not tied down exclusively to the psalms and antiphons for music at Mass. This passage needs a marvelous setting–not a strophic setting though. “Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord,” is a great refrain to which to return. Or that citation in 2:L3b, “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, That he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” A text like this needs more than spoken narration. It needs to sing.