The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In the days to come
the mountain of the Temple of the Lord
shall tower above the mountains
and be lifted higher than the hills.
All the nations will stream to it,
peoples without number will come to it; and they will say:
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the Temple of the God of Jacob
that he may teach us his ways
so that we may walk in his paths;
since the Law will go out from Zion,
and the oracle of the Lord from Jerusalem.’
He will wield authority over the nations
and adjudicate between many peoples;
these will hammer their swords into ploughshares,
their spears into sickles.
Nation will not lift sword against nation,
there will be no more training for war.
O House of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord.
This extract from the Book of Isaiah is the first reading at Mass today, the First Sunday of Advent, the first day of the Church’s new year.
It is a reading of hope, but appears in our Lectionary somewhat ripped from its context – the denunciation of Israel for its unfaithfulness. That unfaithfulness, and her unwillingness to acknowledge and repent of it, will lead her into exile and desolation.
But the hope established in God’s election of Israel is not dashed and abandoned. We may be unfaithful but God is always faithful. God’s extraordinary faithfulness and passion to heal and save his people is demonstrated in the first coming of Jesus and will be demonstrated again at his second coming.
Again and again the Lord offers us opportunities to respond in faith and grow in faith – but…
As we hear again the excitement of Isaiah at what is made possible by God the invitation is there for us to seek to rise to the opportunity and challenge.
Isaiah. Gloucester Cathedral. (C) 2016, Allen Morris.