2nd Sunday of Advent A

Last week I said that we should contemplate hope on our Journey to Christmas Day.  My greatest hope is for peace.  I sometimes feel guilty about this thinking my greatest hope should be for love, but, as we all know, sometimes love is not peaceful, but peace is always loveful.

And there is not greater depiction of peace than what Isaiah prophesies in the first reading.  He speaks of a holy mountain where “the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb.”  A place where the bear and the cow can be friends (although I had not known they were enemies) and “the lion shall eat hay like the ox,” no longer a threat to others.  Even a child can play by the cobra’s den without being endangered.  Yes, everything is in complete harmony, in right relationship.  Ancient hatred and rivalry is peeled away and violence is eliminated.  Primal instincts are supplanted by attraction and friendship.  Peace reigns for all.

And this happens not because of a lucky confluence of events.  It happens because of a person.  “A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse” another David who is endowed with the Spirit of the Lord.  One who carries “a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD” He is different than other leaders because he does not judge by appearances and judges the poor fairly.  The system is no longer rigged.  He puts down the bullies and does not allow the wicked to wield their power.  Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy.  In him, this peace becomes our inheritance.

How attractive is this?  How much would you love to live in a peaceable kingdom, a place of no ruin or harm?  John the Baptist is readying a people for something like that.  He prepares a way for the Lord telling those who come to him “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  He is urging the people to change their mindset, to expand their imagination, to widen their hearts to receive a new gift of the Spirit.  He is preparing a path for the peace and beauty that Christ will bring.

We cannot expect peace unless we invite it, pray for it and live it.  We must make peace our choice and our reality if we are to share it with others.  This is not a peace borne of circumstances – everything suddenly falling into place or your greatest anxiety resolved.  This is not a peace based on who is President of the United States.  This is a peace already planted within you at your baptism.  It is a peace you were built for.  It is a peace only God can give and only God can sustain.  It originates from the divine within us.  Then let us slow down, breathe and put ourselves in the presence of God and meditate on the gift of peace.

How can we expect peace?  Well, do you love anyone?  Are you loved by somebody else?  Have you been forgiven?  Has someone forgiven you?  Are you blessed by friends and family? Do you acknowledge them as God’s gifts to you?  Do you really trust in God?  Do you know that you are beautiful and strong and capable?  I know that you are for I know who made you.  Are you trying to win a victory that Christ has already won or scurrying to pay a price that has already been paid?  Do you believe that peace is possible?  Do you know that God’s love is complete and it is strong enough to overcome our every fear?  Allow the idea of peace to enter deeply into you, to be absorbed by you and radiate within you. Then we will be prepared, on Christmas Day, to welcome the Prince of Peace.