“Like” appears often in today’s Advent readings at Mass. it’s a word that appears often in religious matters. Isaiah, the master poet, cannot speak without using the word. If you listen to God, our Teacher,
“ your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
and those born of your stock like its grains.”
Prophets like Isaiah cannot speak of the mystery of God and his promises without saying what it may be like.
Psalm 1, the responsorial psalm, uses the same language:
The one who follows you, Lord, will have the light of life.
and be like a tree planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
This generation, Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, is ‘ like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ They’re competing with one another, shouting at each other, scarcely seeing Jesus and John and the message they stand for.
“Like” is a word that approximates some reality. It’s the closest we can get to some truth.
We placed poinsettias and wreathes in our chapel yesterday and a vase of roses where the figures of the Child, Mary and Joseph will go. We search for words and ways to understand the mystery we celebrate, but in the end they are all “like”. That’s what we have till we see.