Thursday, January 26, 2017

Pile of Rubble or Seedbed of a New Creation?

A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
   and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
   the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
   the spirit of counsel and might,
   the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
   or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
   and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
   and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
   and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
   the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
   and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
   their young shall lie down together;
   and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
   and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
   on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
   as the waters cover the sea.

 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

(Isaiah 11: 1-10)

This passage from the Prophet Isaiah is among the better known texts of the Old Testament. It speaks of hope and newness of life that flows from the loving kindness and tender mercy of God. Remember, God knows disaster and loss. The glory of Israel had been reduced to ruins. The Tree of Jesse had been cut down and only a stump remained of that noble house. To passersby, the glory of Israel was just a pile of rubble. To God, it was the seedbed of a new creation. To the passerby, the once mighty tree was a lifeless stump. To God, the stump was guardian of ancient roots that would again put forth a tender shoot. No matter how bad things have become in the world, they are the stuff from which God creates a new beginning.

The hope of the world sprang from rubble and destruction. The hope of the world comes in meekness and humility -- a tender shoot sprouting from the lifeless stump. The hope of the world is the firstborn of the new creation. Although the old is passing away, the hope of the world comes to make all things new. The hope of the world took flesh of the Ever-Virgin Mary. He Who created mankind Himself became a man in order to restore mankind to its former glory. He in Whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells Himself came to dwell among us so that we might have a resting place in Him for all eternity. In the Word Made Flesh, our sinful human nature is transformed and in our flesh we are enabled to radiate the grandeur of God the Creator and the Sustainer of our lives.

Looking at the remnant of Israel, God sees the beginnings of a new kingdom. All that has been shattered finds restoration in the hands of God. The stump is all that is left of a magnificent tree. By the grace of God it puts for a fresh shoot, a new growth that will one day shelter the People of God. For a time, the Son of God pitched His tent in our midst so that we might have an eternal dwelling place in heaven. Through Christ, we who were dead in our sins have been brought to the newness of life. How blessed are those who see and acknowledge this gift. May we be awake and watching when He returns in Glory.

--Father Jerome Machar, OSCO

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