The book of Isaiah is read often in Advent (and Lent). Its many prophetic utterances urge a person to look for hope amidst the darkness of the contemporary world. In Isaiah 21 we read, “What is left of the night?” a question addressed to the watchman. “Morning coming, also the night.”
Locally, we seem to be entering morning. Traffic is heavier, more shops are open. Coffee is available on many street corners, we are back, in limited numbers, in Churches…then night descends. As if our community has not had enough to worry about or to consider, the newly elected Council has set the dogs running with a proposed action to remove or change the customary prayer at the beginning of their meetings. Night is not far away!
Mark is said to write, not simply to urge his readers to engage with Jesus…of Nazareth…in Galilee, but also to offer an alternative to the “night” of their experiences; a rule by demonic powers or brutal tyrants.
Our world today needs that alternative.
Isaiah in today’s reading offers that hope. Isaiah promises new action by God who will be victorious.
John was well aware of the call to conversion offered by the waters of the Jordan. He knew that was but a beginning, Baptism in the Holy Spirit was to come, and Paul was able to introduce the truth of our being made adopted sisters and brothers, by that self-same Spirit. Heady stuff then and now.
John came out of the wilderness, not from the Temple. Pope Francis keeps reminding us, you will find the Lord on the peripheries. This likewise was heady stuff in 30CE, and still is today.
It is Advent. It is time to begin again. The word we take this week from our Psalm is surely appropriate:
“I will hear what the Lord God has to say.”