Monday of the Second Week of Advent
Isaiah 35:1-10 + Luke 5:17-26
The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
In today’s First Reading from the thirty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, “the desert” is a focus. This focus is apt for the first two weeks of Advent, when St. John the Baptist is so often at the forefront of the scripture passages we hear. The desert, after all, is where John the Baptist dwells. In the desert he carries out his ministry of preaching and baptizing, both of these for the sake of repentance.
Yet in spite of the desert’s connection with solitude and penance, and as fruitful as this point can be for our Advent meditation, today’s First Reading describes the desert for a different purpose. Isaiah describes the desert for the sake of illustrating, in a phrase, the “reversal of fortune” that the Lord’s merciful love will effect when He comes.
The desert is a place where little to nothing grows. Yet when the Lord come, “the parched land will exult”, “will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song.” This is not the only reversal of fortune that Isaiah foretells in this passage. Through the Lord’s power “the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared”, and “the lame leap like a stag”. The Lord brings life to what seems dead, as the birth of Jesus offers hope for new life to fallen man.