Here in Western Europe, especially in our crowded busy cities, people live very rushed, frenetic lives. We are used to instant news, sound-bites that catch the imagination but require little more than listening. To ‘help’ us understand, out trot the various media celebrities, so called ‘experts’ who endlessly explain what is going on and how they see things. The trouble is so much of what is said is only opinion, yet people seem to accept it as a form of truth!
But there is a divine antidote to this. In Advent our own religious celebrities reach out through the scriptures, names we have heard and learnt, but who do not place themselves in the limelight or offer their own personal interpretation, rather they shine a light on the doings of God with life on earth and speak the truth, the oracles of God. They speak the word that cuts deeply into our awareness of who we are and where God has, is, and will be in the melting pot of our existence.
Isaiah is one of these; poetic, imaginative yet deeply filled with the Spirit of the Most High, his prophecies catch us unawares if we are not prepared for them. In this Sunday's reading he shows us a situation where the majority of people have hardened themselves against God, yes we can grasp at that and link it to our own culture, for many have forgotten God, do not know of the first coming of Christ or care to wait in preparation for the coming of this Christ in glory at the end of time. Isaiah challenges us to remember that God is the creator of all things. God, the potter of our lives, who formed us out of the dust/clay of existence.
This Advent may each of us become the way of knowledge for those who do not see or listen to the God of all things. Jesus proclaims that the Kingdom of God is very near. We are part of its coming, but we also wait with baited breath for the day of glory when the Lord Jesus will come and reveal all in peace, not terror. So, make Jesus words; ‘Be watchful? Be Alert!’ our own, keep a watch for the Lord. The Kingdom of God is near, not yet fully revealed, it is our task is to help people understand this is a Kingdom of love!
Fr Robin Gibbons is an Eastern Rite Chaplain for the Melkite Greek Catholics in Britain.