For the Israelites, the expected messiah was to be a king, from the line of David, who would establish “justice in the land.” Over time, this “justice” was interpreted, especially by the elite of society, as the king defeating others and making Israel a great nation. That, of course, would make them more important.
However, our first reading from Isaiah indicates something much different for this “justice in the land.” We hear “he will judge the poor with justice” (no more taking advantage of those who are weaker). He will wipe out the wicked. Finally, there will be peace and harmony in the whole world (the wolf a guest of the lamb, the calf and lion browsing together with a child to guide them). In other words, all creation will live in harmony, as presented in the Garden of Eden.
What can this say to us as we move through Advent? I think it talks about just relationships, not only among people but also with nature and the earth. This is exactly what Pope Francis has been calling us to live.
First, just relationships with other people. It is convenient to interpret this as following the commandments (not killing, not stealing, not coveting). But it is more than that: it is making sure that there is justice in terms of everyone sharing in the resources that God has given us. There is enough for everyone, but it is not justly apportioned. We who possess more have an obligation to those who don’t have enough.
Second, just relationships with nature. Pope Francis, especially through his encyclical Laudato Si, has been reminding us that we have a responsibility to take good care of the earth and the other resources that God has given us. It is a direct challenge to our culture of consumption.
During this second week of Advent, I invite us to reflect on the relationships we have with all of God’s creatures around us, human and otherwise. Am I taking these challenges seriously? How can I do better? God bless.
Church sign of the week: In autumn, the trees show us how lovely it is to let things go.