Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10
The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
They will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
With divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
Then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water;
The abode where jackals lurk
will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus.
A highway will be there,
called the holy way;
No one unclean may pass over it,
nor fools go astray on it.
No lion will be there,
nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it.
It is for those with a journey to make,
and on it the redeemed will walk.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
They will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.
Throughout our Advent readings, the prophet Isaiah has been painting a word-picture of the transfiguration of the world that occurs when the Messiah comes. It’s a glorious vision, one in which pain and death, enmity and fear, and sorrow and decay vanish. The lion lies down with the lamb, and all peoples—and, indeed, all creation—rejoice in the Lord.
Today, the word-picture is especially vivid, almost cinematic. Isaiah invites us to imagine deserts suddenly bursting into bloom and arid, lifeless places becoming oases brimming with water and life.
This makes me think of that wonderful night in which the dark sky over Bethlehem burst into nova-bright light at the nativity of the Messiah. In that moment, the world was forever transfigured, just as Isaiah predicted. If you and I don’t experience the vibrant colors, delicious aromas, and captivating melodies with which the Incarnation garnished the world, it’s because our spiritual senses today are too dull to experience what Isaiah’s spiritual vision foresaw centuries ago. May our spiritual journeys this Advent season sharpen them so that we come to see the world as the Christ-saturated gem it is.
– Fr. Kerry Walters
Take some time today to see the world as it really is, shot through-and-through with grace. Clear your mind as best you can, concentrate on a specific sight or sound, and let its intricacy and beauty seep into your soul. Afterwards, say a short prayer of gratitude for whatever clarity you achieved. Continue this practice for the rest of Advent. By the time Christmas arrives, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much clearer your spiritual senses are.