There’s a beautiful continuity between the Old and New Testaments in our Advent readings. We see it today – Wednesday in Advent’s first week – between the Prophet Isaiah and the Gospel of Matthew.
Wiping away the tears from all faces, God will provide a feast of rich food and choice wines on his holy mountain, Isaiah promises. (Isaiah 25: 6-10)
Going up a mountain Jesus teaches, then “wipes away the tears from all faces,” Matthew’s Gospel says. “Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.”
Then Jesus feeds them all from 7 loaves of bread and a few fish. It’s not a ration to keep them till they get home. It’s a banquet providing more than enough – there are leftovers. ( Matthew 15: 32-38 )
For Isaiah and Matthew the mountain is a symbolic place. All nations will stream toward it, Isaiah announces. “Great crowds” come to it, Matthew says. The mountain is a place for a feast.
“All nations,” “great crowds” are called to share in God’s feast. Is that a future feast, or is it for all nations and great crowds now? We say in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Even now, on earth, God’s wills his kingdom come. We share in having his kingdom come.
What should we do? How can we beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks today? Can we work to destroy weapons of mass destruction and seek ways to disarm? Realists, like Ahaz, King of Judea, who questioned Isaiah’s promises, would say it can’t be done.
In a world where wealthy nations discriminate against poorer nations is it possible for all nations be fed? How can we bring all to share the fruits of the earth? And how can we care that the earth itself be respected for the common good?
In Advent we hear words from the past, but they point to the present and the future. We’re called to bring about God’s kingdom now, on earth as it is in heaven.