Advent of Lions and Lambs

Good stuff, today from Magnificat Magazine:

The first reading at Mass:

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jess, and fro his roots a bud shall blossom. the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. Not by appearance shall he judge, not by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lied own with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea.
– Isaiah 11:1-9

A beautiful prophecy! But I especially like the very useful Magnificat meditation that precedes it. Written by some anonymous and brilliant contributor, it reads:

What is so new about the promised “mountain of the Lord” is not that the wolf and the lamb are both there, but that the wolf remains a wolf and the lamb a lamb, and yet they dwell together without harm or hurt in God’s kingdom. Under God’s rule, conversion and obedience do not mean the loss of identity but the discovery of our true identity as one in Christ.

Have you not found this to be true, in your life? That making the constant “conversion” that involves turning to God with every concern, every idea, every problem, every joy, every petty annoyance, every minor inconvenience or major upheaval tends to reveal you to yourself, in all your generosity or meanness? That obedience, even when it is a hard one, stubbornly resisted, ends up proving things to you that are revelatory, and also -perhaps more importantly- demonstrates the practical rewards and workability of faith, itself?

I remember a friend telling me that he and his wife made a decision to be obedient to God, rather than to their own leanings; though they initially found the changes in their life to be tough going, after a brief while he wrote to me, “the blessings do not end.” He and his wife attributed those blessings specifically to their willingness to obey -like lambs- rather than run by their own lights, like determined lions. In doing so, they in no way gave up anything that they believed to be true about themselves. Both of them will tell you, now, that they are more completely, more fully, more authentically themselves than they ever were before.

Advent gives us a chance to think about these prophecies, and to try to understand them intellectually and instinctively; with mind and heart, so as to nourish the soul. Where is our Holy Mountain of the Lord? Is it the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, City of Peace? Perhaps. Perhaps it is also wherever we plant our flag and declare, “as for me and my house, we will follow the Lord.”

There is no harm, there; nor ruin, “for the earth will be filled with knowledge of the Lord,” as it already is, although imperfectly. The knowledge is there; it is shrugged off, or dismissed, or sneered at, or forgotten in a moment’s anger, or cast off in misunderstanding. Our Holy Mountain is shaken each day, mostly through our own inability to live as we know we ought, and as our hearts do desire.

While we are waiting for that day to be made perfect, we should consider that it has also already come; is here, even now. Today, a Word goes forth; today another word responds with perfect obedience, her holy “yes.” Today, wood is being plied for a manger. Today wood is being plied for a cross. They are both for us. Each day we begin again, and choose whether we will accept them; each day begins the journey, from Genesis to Revelation, to that Holy Place.

Each day the question; “do we believe, do we step on that path, and walk it to conclusion?” Lighting our Advent candle to dispel the darkness, we rise and wait for the escort: the angel, the pillar of cloud, the star that leads, the dove descending, the One ascending, the tongues of fire.

O Delicious anticipation. We shiver with it.

Related: You know neither day nor hour

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