Daily Reflection
December 11th, 2006

Tom Bannantine, S.J.

School of Nursing
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Psalm 85:9ab and 10, 11-12, 13-14
Luke 5:17-26

Recently I watched a TV news report about the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is slowly drying up. There is a real danger that the Dead Sea could disappear if something is not done. The Dead Sea is fed by the Jordan River. The problem is that the people of the area - Palestinians, Jews, and people of Jordan are all diverting more and more of the water from the Jordan River for irrigation. The solution would be cooperation among all these people to use the water wisely. However with all the strife and enmity among these people, cooperation is not happening. That is just one more reason to pray for peace in the land of our savior as we approach once again the birthday of the prince of peace. I was reminded of this problem when I read the words of Isaiah in today's first scripture reading.

Isaiah speaks of the barren climate and scarcity of water in the land of Israel. He compares the joy at the coming of the savior to joy at an abundant supply of water suddenly bursting forth in the desert. Just as the people of Israel would feel great joy at the appearance of the water, so should they rejoice at the coming of the savior. He says further that at the appearance of the water a highway will also appear. It will be called the holy way. And this is where Isaiah is also speaking to us. The holy way is not a road for everyone. No one unclean, that is sinners who are estranged from God, will be allowed to travel the road. The holy way is for those who are followers of the Lord and are worthy of redemption. It sounds like a great road to be on, one that all of us would like to travel. But for those Israelites listening to Isaiah it would be a very long road. The savior had not yet come and would not come for centuries. And so it was up to Isaiah and the other prophets to keep repeating God's promise that a savior would come to redeem the people. The people of Israel needed to be reminded often of God's promise so that they could remember to avoid evil and follow the holy road to their redemption. By repeating God's promise over and over, Isaiah and the other prophets helped the people to prepare for the coming of the savior.

I think we know that by calling our attention to the prophecies of Isaiah and the other prophets in these daily Advent readings, the Church is calling on us to prepare for the coming of our savior on Christmas. But our problem is different than that of the ancient Israelites. They had a very long road to travel and needed constant encouragement. Our road is shorter, the four weeks of Advent, but our problem is to find the time to truly make Advent a time of preparation. In our modern world the true meaning of Christmas has to compete with all the hustle and bustle of a busy season. It is not easy for us to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ on Christmas. But it only takes a few minutes to read and meditate on the words of Isaiah. If we can take a few minutes daily or at least often during Advent, to do this, we can keep ourselves on that holy way and truly prepare for the coming of Christ on Christmas.

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