Today's first reading from Isaiah speaks of taking Israel out of captivity, of turning the desert into marshland and dry ground into spring water. The reading even goes so far as to refer to Israel as a "maggot" and Jacob as a "worm."
Somehow this doesn't seem very Christmas-y. We think of Advent as a season of preparation, peace and joy. Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere associate it with wintertime, not parched deserts. So what's it doing here as a reading - smack dab in the middle of Advent?
Maybe it's not so far removed though. We tend to think of the slavery and captivity of Israel as an abstraction, something of little relevance to the life of most of us know. But we can make ourselves slaves of a different sort. We can become slaves to material possession, sin, pride, greed and arrogance. Advent is about overcoming that. It's about the greatest story ever told. God, made human, coming to us in the most humble of circumstances from what appeared to be the most ordinary of parents. If God could so humble Himself, surely we can focus on the real meaning of the season.
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