The Image of Peace in Isaiah

4 December 2007 Tuesday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 11, 1-10; Psalm 72; Luke 10, 21-24

I always love the imagery of the first reading from the book of Isaiah. He describes the result of the coming of Christ in our lives: “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. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.” (An adder is a poisonous snake from the family of vipers.) The pairs of animals in the imagery are enemies: one is a predator, the other, its victim. Or one is dangerous and the other is vulnerable. But the effect of the coming of Christ, the root of Jesse, is peace. No one will harm each other; and they live in peace and quiet.

St. Ignatius of Loyola said in his rules for discernment tells us that God’s entry into our lives is “gentle, lightly and sweetly, like a drop of water going into a sponge. The evil spirit touches it sharply, with noise and disturbance, like a drop of water falling onto a stone.” (7th rule, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, trans from George E. Ganss SJ). That means, when we are at peace; when it is a quiet calmness, we are in the hands of God.

However, we know that to have peace, we have to patch things up with people who cause us much pain: some are not necessarily our enemies. They may be friendships that have lost their luster; once in awhile you wonder about them. Friendships that faded because of some misunderstandings. Relationships without proper closure: they bother us and often make it difficult for us to move on. People whom we have hurt but we have not expressed our sorrow and asked for forgiveness. People whom we would like to talk to for various reasons. When we are able to face those who prey on us like real people or emotional burdens, we would have peace. Our desire for genuine reconciliation comes from God; it is a concrete experience of God coming into our hearts. The result, if we respond to it, is peace. And God can only give us peace.

And if, in the spirit of the Advent Season, you are waiting for the right time, I suggest now. There is something in the holiday season that makes people more open to forgive and start anew. We become more docile, kind, and welcoming. The season changes hearts and deepens relationships gone cold. Send a card, a text or call to start the ball rolling. In Filipino, we say, “Magparamdam ka muna.” (Let them feel your presence or intentions of renewing the friendship first). This suggestion comes from my direct experience both personally and in my ministry with people. If you desire the peace that the image of Isaiah presents, then now is the time.

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