I'm reading the book of Isaiah for Advent. Check out chapters one and two which set up two key themes: the infidility of Israel and God's judgment and punishment to call her back. "Sons have I raised and reared, but they have disowned me!...you that rebel again and again? The whole head is sick, the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot to the head there is no sound spot....Your country is waste....Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good....Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow;...If you are willing, and obey."
Certainly, the United States is as unfaithful as Zion of old. We spurn God, the ten commandments, and turn truth on its head calling good evil and evil good. We choose evil leaders and worship our material prosperity. How many obey only their own evil desires? Isaiah proclaims the Lord's message, "Their land is full of idols; they worship the works of their hands." How many of us worship at the mall on Sundays or in front of our TV shrines? Isn't it interesting that we talk about American "idols" and treat celebrities, including our president-elect, like little gods.
What can we expect from our Father who chastises his children, not to condemn them, but to bring them back to His loving arms? "I will turn my hand against you....Get behind the rocks, hide in the dust, From the terror of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty!...Human pride will be abased, the arrogance of men brought low, And the Lord alone will be exalted." We are created, as psalm 8 says, "little less than the angels." What have we done to the divine image in which we were created?
Despite these grim images, Isaiah is full of hope if we only choose to walk in the way of the Lord. "Come, let us climb the Lord's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, That he may instruct us in his ways and we may walk in his paths."
What a glorious opportunity the season of Advent is. Two great figures set before us by the Church are St. John the Baptist and Mary, the Mother of God. Take to heart John's message to "reform your lives and prepare the way of the Lord" and Mary's desire to be the obedient "handmaid." If we follow in their holy footsteps we truly will have a merry and a Mary Christmas. Offer a decade of your rosary today for those who are so caught up in the things of this world that they are clueless about what really matters, the things of our God.