Thursday, November 28, 2013

12/3/2013 – Tuesday 1st week Advent – Isaiah 11:1-10

      We hear from the prophet Isaiah today.  Isaiah is a popular Advent prophet,  as his prophecies foreshadow Christ’s coming into our world.  Today, Isaiah foretells of a new king who will be guided by God's spirit, a king who will sit on the throne of David.  He is not just any king, but a judge without peer.  He will bring new possibilities in the governing of Israel, in the justice that is to be lived out there.   Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann describes Isaiah's vision as the birth of a new innocence in creation in which trust, gentleness, and friendship are not only possible, but are called for.  The peace he will bring is so profound that the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will be with a baby goat, and the calf and lion will co-exist together. 
      If we really believe in the peace that Jesus could bring into our lives and creation through his birth, think of how different our world would be.  While this vision appeals to our imagination, it is so different from the reality of creation today, where it’s often the survival of the fittest.  Isaiah's vision may seem absurd and out of reach in the brokenness in our world today.  In the newspapers and on TV we see so much suffering, turmoil, and violence.  Yet we place our hope in Jesus, from the branch of Jesse, from the lineage of David. Through this branch, we gain wisdom and understanding.  God's hope transforms the impossible into reality. 
     Our saint today St. Francis Xavier, a man who became a friend of St. Ignatius of Loyola and a member of the Jesuits after he finished his studies for the priesthood in Paris in the early 16th century.  Francis Xavier lived in a world where the Protestant Reformation was taking place – many in the Catholic Church experienced turmoil and confusion rather than hope and peace.  Yet, these young Jesuits dreamed of being loyal to the Pope and to the Church, of spreading this message to the ends of the earth.  Wherever Francis Xavier went as a missisonary to spread God's word, he lived with the very poor, he shared their food, and lived in their simple accommodations. He spent his ministry devoted to the sick and the poor, including lepers.  He always found great joy in truly living out the values and ideals of Christ’s Gospel. He truly built his faith on a solid foundation.  After spending many years preaching in India & Japan, he died on his journey to China, where he dreamed of spreading the Word to the people there.  Francis lived the values of justice and peace that Isaiah foretells, values that are fulfilled in the coming of Jesus.  How do we live them out?

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