2 December 2008 Tuesday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 11, 1-10; Psalm 72; Luke 10, 21-24
The Israelites pined their hopes on a future king, in the line of David, “from the stump of Jesse”. They prayed for a king that is far greater than any other king because the Lord is upon him. In the future we would soon understand this king, not as the Israelites imagined Him to be as a political Messiah. He was someone far greater than that. The Lord kept his promise: the king will still be from the lineage of David, from Bethlehem, the hometown of Jesse, the father of David. Because the Lord is upon Jesus, He will bring about reconciliation and peace.
The first reading is written in poetic language, and the world it describes is ideal, a fantasy rather than a prediction of the future. It has never happened that the wolf, the leopard, the lion, the bear, and the cobra will be friends with their prey: the lamb, the calf, the cow, the child. That is why many young people find the book, Twilight, very fascinating: a vampire falling in love with a human being and respecting her humanity. In other words, despite Edward’s desire to drink of Bella’s blood, his love for her prevents him from doing so.
But this image of peace serves two purposes. First, the beauty of these images of predator and prey in friendship provides comfort to those in the midst of great turmoil. In Isaiah’s time, it gave the assurance of peace in the midst of the Assyrian crisis; for us today, it consoles us in the midst of violence and the world financial recession.
On the other hand, the picture gives us a goal to work for. When a goal is clear, the steps towards it can be easier planned. In organizations and institutions, these goals are stated in their vision. We may not be able to fully attain these goals, but at least they give us direction. In addition, when goals are set, we are able to evaluate our present work by comparing or juxtaposing it with these goals. We are able to see the challenges that beset us. We would see our limitations, so that we can know when we need help or how we could fare better. We would be looking at our liabilities, so that we may be able to strengthen our assets and respond to what puts us into a disadvantage.
It is the vocation of every Christian to work for peace. To envision a community of love in an environment of peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,” the Lord of Peace said. We can reflect on two points.
First, we can evaluate ourselves: Am I a troublemaker or a peacemaker? How do I cause harm and damage to people? Do I contribute to the enmity of people in the workplace? How do I bring people to work together in peace? How do I foster unity in heart and mind within my family, friends, and organizations?
Second, we can look at ideals. Do I have a vision or an ideal that keep me on track? Am I directionless because I have no dreams for my future or I simply do not know what I want in my life? Usually, we abandon ideals because we thought these ideals are unrealistic. Ideals have a set purpose in our lives. People with ideals are stable and purposeful. It is in this light that the image of a child in the Gospel comes to mind. Children know what they want. They are single-hearted. And when they want something they like — like a piece of candy— they put all of their hearts to it. They are without pretension: if they like it, the like it and if they don’t, they don’t. Clear and unadulterated desire. We pray that our ideals and values such as peace and justice in our world are clear to us that we don’t compromise them even if challenged by culture and the people around us.