For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you insect Israel! I will help you, says the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. Now, I will make of you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. Then you shall rejoice in the Lord; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.
When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive; I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, so that all may see and know, all may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.
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.
Before I read this prophecy to my third graders last weekend, I asked some questions:
Me: “What is Advent all about?”
Child: “Preparing for Jesus’s birthday.”
Me: “True. We’re also preparing for something else. Does anyone know?”
Child: “When Jesus comes back and God will be all in all.”
Then we read the prophecy and looked for clues of either event. Despite the tough vocabulary, at least one child listened to the end. She said this was a Parousia prophecy. “The end says that everybody sees and knows that God made everything. All people – Catholics, Jewish people, Hindus – all together seeing and knowing God.” After catching my breath – she actually said Hindus – I realized I could probably read the passage a little closer. Take a few minutes to read it again to find something that you missed about the time when God will be all in all.
—Mark Bartholet is a John Carroll University alumnus who coordinates the Contemplative Leaders in Action program and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Peter Catholic Church, the Jesuit parish in Charlotte, NC.
Hearing Better Voices
We make a pause
amid many voices–
some innocent and some seductive,
some violent and some coercive,
some forgiven and genuine,
Amid this cacophony that pulls us
in many directions,
we have these old voices of your prophets;
these voices attest to
your fierce self,
your severe summons,
your generous promise,
your abiding presence.
Give us good ears,
perchance you have a word for us tonight;
Give us grace and courage to listen,
and to rejoice,
that we may be more fully your people.
—Walter Brueggemann from Prayers for a Privileged People