02 December 2008

Being a signal to the nations

First Week of Advent (T): Is 11.1-10; Luke 10.21-24
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Convento SS Domenico e Sisto, Roma

For generations, prophets and kings failed to see and to hear. Though they waited faithfully, straining their eyes and ears against darkness and silence, they saw nothing; they heard nothing. In their anxious waiting they detected not one spark, not one whisper; yet, they waited. For whom did they wait? Isaiah tells God’s people that “on that day,” the day that their long patience will be rewarded; on that day, they will receive from the root of Jesse’s family tree, a sprout and then a blossom, and on that blooming sprout, a son, “the Spirit of the LORD shall rest. . .a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a Spirit of counsel and of strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD.” This is the Son for whom they waited. And this is the Son we have seen and heard. Isaiah says, “On that day, the Gentiles shall seek out the root of Jesse…” That day, my fellow Gentiles, is today. Are you ready to see and hear the coming of the Lord?

Jesus, with his disciples, and in the middle of a crowd, lays claim to his inheritance as a prophesied son of Jesse. He says, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father.” As the inheriting son, the heir of the Father, Jesus lays claim to his father’s kingdom. Not so unusual. What is unusual is the claim immediately after: “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Now, this is a truly priceless heirloom to inherit—the gift of revealing the Father! And Jesus wastes no time in making use of this gift. In private, he turns to his disciples and says, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” What do they see? The flesh and blood of Isaiah’s promise: the Spirit of wisdom, of counsel, of knowledge, and of strength, the Spirit of the Lord come among them as a man.

Are you ready to see and hear the coming of the Lord? The prophets and kings waited and waited only to end without seeing or hearing. Their efforts gave birth to a hope for the coming of the Messiah but their hopeful waiting bore them no Savior in their lifetime. It would be many generations later that a virgin girl would say yes to the Spirit and give birth to the Word Made Flesh, sending out to creation the very Word Who was spoken over the void, re-creating everything that is fallen, waking in everyone who is fallen that spark of the Father who seduces us back to His glory, so that we might live, against the defeat of death itself, a life everlasting, ever-blest, ever-joyous, a life that will be a signal to the nations that a justice and peace, the Father’s justice and peace, will rule.

Are you ready to wait on the Lord, all the while knowing that the Lord has come, is coming, and will come again? Are you ready to be a revelation of God to world, to one another? Are you ready to be a signal to the nations? You are given the Spirit of wisdom, strength, counsel, understanding, and the fear of the Lord, are you ready to greet him in the flesh? To offer him your life and work as a gift? To come to him like the kings of the east who saw and heard, who came to him, proclaiming him Lord and King? Are you ready? Are you ready?


  1. Anonymous6:50 AM


    This is a very good short essay. I have to wonder and ask myself (as you pointed out), "Am I ready."

    Thank you!

    Paul W. Primavera

  2. Anonymous7:56 AM


    Should we be ready for the return of Christ to this Earth? Or just our own meeting with Christ through death?

    How do we get ready?


  3. Anonymous1:39 PM


    Should we not be ready for Christ's return either way - by our death or by His second coming? What difference is there, really? If one isn't ready for the second coming, then one isn't ready for death, and vice versa. Now how do we get ready? The two Great Commandments: Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and body, and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said that if we do that, then we will live.

    There are few Catholics - indeed, few Christians overall - who are "ready".

    I like how the KJV translates this passage in chapter 12 of the Gospel of Luke:

    13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

    14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

    15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

    16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

    17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

    18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

    19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

    20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

    21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.


    I think Jesus answered your question, Patrick. ;-)


    Paul Primavera

  4. ready, and waiting....

    but I must say, in my personal life as well as my spiritual one, I have found that waiting on the Lord is the hardest thing in this life to do.