A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In one of the most consoling passages in all of Scripture, the prophet Isaiah cascades image after image of the coming Messiah. Read and see which word, which image ‘shimmers,’ calls to you. ‘A bud shall blossom’ – do you sense something changing in your life? ‘The lion shall eat hay with the ox’ – have you felt the need to reconcile with someone? ‘The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord’ – do you feel a growing desire to know Jesus? Whatever word or image catches you, it is God speaking to you.
As John the Baptist proclaims, “The kingdom of God is close at hand.” Yes, this Advent, now. Pay attention! Write the shimmering word or image down on a piece of paper or put it in your phone, and pause with it during this coming Advent week. God speaks, we listen. It’s pretty simple, but literally life-changing, and oh, so wonderful.
—Mark Henninger, S.J. serves as a Pastoral Care chaplain at Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood IL.
At the coming of the Most High our hearts shall be made clean,
And we shall walk worthily in the way of the Lord.
The Lord is coming and will not delay.
—from the Cistercian liturgy