The scenario we hear in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah may seem, well, bizarre.
“the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb”
“the leopard shall lie down with the kid”
“the calf and the young lion shall browse together”
“the baby shall play by the cobra’s den”
The outcome of these we are told is that “there will be no harm or ruin on my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord.”
Occasionally you will find a news story about somebody who tried to test this out. Usually it is a person who dies after being bitten by a poisonous snake while worshipping God.
May I recommend that you not try this. Not that I have a lack of faith in God’s promises, but because I have an understanding of scripture that tells me that the prophet is presenting these extreme examples to illustrate a point: that our view of God, of his ways, of his plan and of what he has in store for us is much greater and different than anything we can imagine. We don’t look forward to heaven as being the equivalent of a really good day. Heaven is being in total union with God in a state of perfect happiness and love. As great as our experiences of these things are, they pale to what God offers us.
Once we recognize that our thinking and our ways are what need to change, we are able to experience the spiritual growth that leads us to a deeper peace and love in our lives. That is why one of the great blessings we have is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This gives us the opportunity to start over after we’ve strayed. We are sometimes embarrassed or angry at ourselves and these emotions keep us from the sacrament. However, this just keeps the burden on us and becomes and obstacle to the joy the Lord wishes us to live with. I invite you to join us this Wednesday at 7PM for our Advent Reconciliation Service. It will be a liturgy of the Word, followed by the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is a great way to prepare our hearts for the Christmas celebration!
Please keep our college students in our prayers. Many colleges and universities are beginning their final exams this week. This is a very stressful time and we want to be sure that all the supports that are necessary are in place for them. Our prayers are invaluable and do make a difference.