Isaiah:2:1-5  –  St Paul: Romans:13:11-14  – Mt: 24:37-41

In today’s first reading, Isaiah holds up the vision for the season of Advent. A vision to prepare us for the reality of the birth of the Christ-child. What is the source or bedrock of the vision? Vision without an inherent reality of possibility crumbles away to dust, to unreality, to a pie in the sky approach! Isaiah states clearly:

“In the days to come…. these will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles.  Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war”.

We look around at our world today and we are confronted with war in all its guises and horror.  At our doorstep in Europe, the people of Ukraine are been ravaged by the evil of war.  We have already witnessed what has been done in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Myanmar.  On all the Continents we are seeing the dark clouds of war, misuse and abuse of power, and the excesses of greed. Our Universe and Mother Earth is under threat in a way never experienced before due to our decades of uncontrolled greed, corruption, jealousies and blind activity. It paints a very dismal picture and future.

Where does Isaiah’s vision come from or St Paul’s exhortation to the Romans to live a decent life?  I would suggest that the foundation of this vision and the message of Advent is HOPE.  HOPE, that fragile yet strong quality in the soul of our existence and personified in the reality and life  of Christ.  The reality of hope, born as a vulnerable baby in a manger and yet a herald of salvation, redemption, resurrection. Far-fetched, one could say, but the wonder, the secret and the challenge of the Advent Season and invitation is to HOPE.

St Paul says: “ You must wake up now, our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were converted”.

Jesus, in the gospel, tells his disciples “Stay Awake”. The liturgy throughout Advent calls us to be awake, to be present, to live in the present moment so that we become aware of the gentle stirring of the Spirit in our lives. Stay awake so that we touch into the hope that the Christ-Child brought for us.  The hope that enables to “ hammer swords into ploughshares, spears into sickles, and  no more training for war”.

Stay awake and discover the possibilities of Hope, insight, transformation, generosity, courage and love that can change the darkness of evil into the goodness of light.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.”

(Emily Dickinson)