Today’s First Reading is from the so-called “Book of Consolation,” from a man scripture scholars call “Deutero-Isaiah,” the “Second Isaiah.” “Comfort, give comfort to My people…” “Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!” If you can, read all 14 verses. They will be familiar to you and very comforting. The author was describing the return from exile which will be like the first Exodus. God will lead them back as of old. Things will again be as they should. This section will remind you of John the Baptist and the start of Jesus’ public ministry. “…the glory of the Lord will be revealed…” in the person of Jesus Christ.
Both readings today test our capacity for awe, for wonder and amazement. Isaiah sets before us a distant utopian age in which all the woes that, then and now, beset mankind vanish and are replaced by the kind of idyllic world for which we all long. Advent is about waiting, and waiting assumes something lies ahead.
Advent invites us to turn away from sin and to start living our lives as Jesus taught us. Our repentance should lead to action; a change in how we live. Advent invites us to take a kind of inventory on how we’re doing. How prepared are we for Christ’s coming at Christmas, at the end of the world, at our death? The perfect way is to prepare by celebrating the Sacrament of Penance. When you get right down to it, Advent is a time of mental rehearsal for Christ’s coming. It is a time of preparation. Maybe, this means we have to make some changes in how we do things.
Today’s Solemnity honors the fact that Mary was conceived without sin. Yet, Jesus said, “More blessed are those who hear the word of God and kep it.” Jesus is telling us not simply to praise Mary but to imitate her. For Mary heard God’s word and said “yes.” Do you say “yes” to God?
Isaiah tells us of a time when “the deaf shall hear…the eyes of the blind shall see.” Jesus heals two blind men in the gospel as partial fulfillment of the prophecy. What did the two blind men do? They couldn’t stop reporting what Jesus did. Do you say “thank you” to God often enough?
This reading is thought of as a hymn of redemption. It contrasts the just and unjust city. (Think Tower of Babel) The just city is under God’s protection. The other city, no matter what it does, cannot stand. It is a hymn of reliance on God. How much do you trust God?
This reading deals with the Messianic Banquet on “this mountain,” meaning Jerusalem. Salvation is expressed by banquet imagery, feasting. “On that day” equates with the “Day of the Lord,” where God finally judges and then saves the elect. This reading is often used at funerals. We have a great banquet when we receive our Lord in Holy Communion at the mass. This reading affords great hope, and hope is what Advent is all about.