Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Advent 14 2013


The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
    to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
    my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
    and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
    to spring up before all the nations.

Paul wrote:  "Is it possible that I, an Israelite, descended from Abraham through the tribe of Benjamin, could agree that God had rejected this people?"  He then likens the Gentile Christians (us) to a wild branch grafted to a tree that is Israel.  "Remember," he says, "it is the root that supports you."

Remember.  But we forgot.  We took a Jewish prophet like Isaiah and decided he could only be talking about Jesus.  And with all those clear prophecies, how could the Jews have missed the Messiah?  And Christians got into a habit of drawing old/new comparisons:  the old way of the Jews being empty and sour, all in contrast to our shining selves.

Advent makes us face this. Our generation must do so with the Holocaust as witness.  We can love Isaiah as a Jewish prophet talking to Jews, still.  Vatican II taught that the writings of the prophets have their own value, entirely apart from the New Testament.  And John Paul II has affirmed--along with the apostle Paul--that God's covenant with the Jews is a living reality.

What then of these Advent readings from Isaiah?  Try reading Isaiah in light of what the Vatican Commission on Religious Relations with the Jews wrote:  "Attentive to the same God who has spoken, hanging on the same word, we Jews and Christians have to witness to one same memory and one common hope to the one who is master of history.  We must also accept our responsibility to prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah by working together for social justice."

To prepare the world for the coming of whom?  And how?

--Gabe Huck.

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