Tuesday of the First Week

Readings

Is 11:1-10
Lk 10:21-24

Reflection

That Day is Approaching

When the Prophet Isaiah begins a statement, as in today’s first reading, with the words “On that day…” he is referring to the Hebrews’ deep conviction about the Day of the Lord. They believed, and Jesus and his followers therefore do likewise, that a day of reckoning, a day of final judgment by God sorting out the good from the evildoers, is somewhere on the horizon. Is it coming soon or is it far off? About that, no one really knows. Certainly, on an individual level, however, we know it can happen for each of us any time in our death.

The conviction that evil will ultimately be destroyed once and for all remains an important belief in the monotheistic traditions who hold that the goodness and justice of God will eventually triumph over all evil. That is the major reason we have hope: It is God’s justice that will be done in the end, something profoundly beyond anything we can envision.

Advent is a time to recall that the End is approaching, perhaps for ourselves sooner than we think – and we should prepare. What matters is to opt for good, for the achievement of justice in whatever ways we can. What matters is to profoundly choose within ourselves to align our lives with the vision God has for each of us to become fully human.

Isaiah wants his readers to understand that “On that day,” however it is achieved, the incredible peace which follows God’s eradication of evil will be so extraordinary it will be as if “the leopard shall lie down with the kid” ( Isaiah 11:6 ). Using that comparison within Isaiah’s agrarian society was a colorful way of communicating how extraordinary existence will be with the absence of the destructiveness of evil.

One day recently at the San Diego Zoo, in the new exhibit where there are leopards, I stood only a few feet from a young male. Thanks to steel wire meshed fence and plexiglass I was able to approach very close to him. It was dusk and very quiet; no one else was around. I tried to make eye contact with that powerful, vibrant creature. He snarled, flashed his fangs and then ignored me. Had I been a baby goat inside his cage, I would have been a mere snack.

Isaiah knew about or at least had heard of leopards in the mountains of Judea. They were not nice to kid goats, much less companionable toward them or humans. That’s why he drew a comparison using kids and leopards to say how radical the peace will be “On that day” once evil has been eradicated. Notice in his text today how many other animals (such as cobras) he envisions as peaceful companions, even for human babies. According to Isaiah “On that day” the peace will be radical.

Florence Gillman, Ph.D.
Professor of Biblical Studies
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
University of San Diego