First Sunday of Advent
The reading from the prophet Isaiah this Sunday contains a remarkable prediction—the end of war between nations (Isaiah 2:4). While most of the good predictions of the prophets were fulfilled in Jesus, we still await the end of all wars. So why hasn’t that one been fulfilled? We can look to the second reading and the Gospel for some hints.
Both readings talk about being awake and ready for our salvation (Romans 13:12) or the coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:39). Being awake doesn’t mean consuming lots of coffee or turning the music volume all the way up. Paul calls it “putting on the Lord Jesus Christ” as a soldier would put on armor before a battle. He even mentions rivalry and jealousy as attitudes to avoid. Both of those vices have been the cause of many wars in our history. What if we not only avoided them, but also taught our children to avoid them? What if everyone eventually learned not to be jealous and hateful?
We are a long way from ending all wars. There are still people who teach hate to the poor instead of helping to feed them. There are still people who get rich selling the weapons of war. This brings us back to the first reading, in which Isaiah speaks of beating swords into plowshares. Do we have enough faith in God’s love to stop building weapons and use those resources to feed the hungry or cure diseases in underprivileged countries? Until we convert everyone to following Jesus, that’s not likely. The Gospel calls us to be ready. Maybe we need to be ready to share our faith. Maybe we have to be awake to any opportunity to show God’s love to those around us. Are we afraid to offer to pray for someone in need? Maybe we need to put on the “armor of light,” as St. Paul calls it. Instead of trying to stop all wars, could we at least show forgiveness to someone who has hurt us?
Jesus never said to do the impossible. If we can be ready to see Jesus in those around us, to show his love to those who need it, or just be patient with other people’s faults and weaknesses, we may not stop all wars, but we will be prepared for the coming of the Prince of Peace.