Monday of week 1 of Advent – First Reading


Commentary on Isa 2:1-5 (or Isa 4:2-6 in Year A)We are now entering the season of Advent and making our preparations to welcome the coming of the Son of God among us as one of us. The Child, born in such obscure surroundings, will become the Light of the Nations. Our First Reading today, as for much of the Advent season, is taken from the early part of the prophet Isaiah. It begins with the lovely prophecy:

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… that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths'. In the ancient Near East temples were seen as the places were gods lived. Frequently too they were built on the tops of mountains. Isaiah is primarily thinking of the Temple in Jerusalem to which he sees peoples from all over coming to pay homage to the one true God. For us, of course, at this season we are thinking of the Temple of the New Covenant, which is the Incarnate Word of God. Eventually, he will be raised up in glory and, in a very different sense, will "tower over the mountains and be lifted higher than the hills". And his is a Temple to which over the centuries nations and "peoples without number" have streamed. Who would ever have thought in those early days of Christianity that the fellowship would one day number a billion people (a number which was not in any vocabulary in those days)?

For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Mount Zion and Jerusalem are one and the same. After the disciples of Jesus were filled with his Spirit, following the resurrection and glorification of Jesus, the word of the Lord did begin to go out from Jerusalem until it spread to every corner of the world. Jerusalem is no longer the centre because wherever there are Christian communities, there is the Temple, the very presence of the Risen Christ. And the message that is going out is the message of love and peace. A message that has been heard by many but needs to be heard a lot more.

He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples, they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nations, neither shall they learn war any more. Indeed there are nations which have gone a long way to being havens of peace and justice and which have reduced their weapons to a minimum. Unfortunately, the arms industry still thrives as there are still many who think that only violence solves problems. As Christians we have a lot of work to do to bring the spirit of Christ and the Gospel into our world. To do that effectively we need to hear and respond to the invitation with which our reading closes:

O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

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