Scripture Reflections – Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Is 11:1-10; Rom 15: 4-9; Mt 3:1-12

2nd Sunday in Advent

“On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” 

The beginning of Isaiah’s messianic prophesy makes reference to a devastating event in the history of Israel – the Babylonian Exile which occured in the 6th Century B.C.  “Jesse” was the father of King David whose bloodline continued to provide rulers for the kingdom of Judah over five centuries until his descendant  was carried off into exile by the Babylonian army that conquered  Judah in 587 B.C.  The Babylonians left a trail of devastation in their wake – the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, including the holy Temple, and those who weren’t killed in the attack were removed and scattered among the far-flung reaches of the Empire.  The last ruler of the independent kingdom of Judah and the last descendant of King David to wield any real power died in exile.

How could the Messiah, who God promised would be a descendant of David, possibly come to fulfull that prophesy now?  For centuries Israel wondered, and then, in the glory of the Resurrection, a small group of Jews discovered the answer.   Jesus of Nazareth, whose father Joseph was a distant and obscure descendant of King David, was the “shoot” that sprouted from the stump of the Davidic dynasty so many centuries later.

Isaiah’s image reminds us of a truth that Jesus once taught to his disciples – “Nothing is impossible for God.”   When viewed through the eyes of Faith our seemingly most hopeless conditions are seen for what they truly are – Hope disguised.   This Sunday we continue our journey  towards that Christian feast which reminds us that hope can suddenly appear in our world almost unnoticed – except, perhaps by  a few shepherds.  We might want to consider this question:  Where has God placed carefully wrapped Hope in our lives, just waiting for us to unwrap it?

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim) 

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