Tuesday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 11:1-10 ─ Luke 10:21-24
November 29, 2011
The book of the Old Testament that the Church turns to most frequently during Advent is, without a doubt, the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah, as I’m sure you know, is one of the four “major prophets” of the Old Testament: those four being Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. The Season of Advent, of course, is a season of prophecy, symbolizing as it does the entire period of human history from the Fall in the Garden of Eden to the pregnancy of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This entire stretch of human history was one of longing and expectation for the coming of the Messiah, promised as it was by God in the Garden after the Fall of Adam and Eve, and symbolized by the longing and expectation of Mary’s pregnancy.
In today’s First Reading from Isaiah, the Church proclaims the coming of the Messiah. Just as Mary’s human pregnancy truly and historically became the symbol of Israel’s hope for a Messiah, so Isaiah uses metaphors of vegetation to prophecy God’s plan to fulfill His promise for a Messiah: A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, / and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
Then Isaiah prophesies that the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon this Messiah. This prophecy, like all prophecies, is limited in what it reveals. Isaiah himself, the human prophet, likely did not understand that the Messiah would be the Son of God in a human nature. How could he have suspected that God the Father would be so gracious as to give us His only-begotten Son as the Messiah? But God does announce through Isaiah’s prophecy that the Holy Spirit shall rest upon the Messiah.
God, through Isaiah, reveals that this Holy Spirit is a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a Spirit of counsel and of strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord…. The Church calls these six—along with “piety”—the “gifts of the Holy Spirit”, and these seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are the best Christmas gifts that we as Christians might hope for. We receive these seven gifts through Jesus Christ, whose birth we await. You first received these seven gifts on the day of your Baptism: your birthday into the Church. These gifts were further strengthened in you through the Sacrament of Confirmation, so that you might more fully live out your vocation as a Christian, and in the particular vocation by which God asks you to carry out His work on earth.