6 N HIS days justice shall
flourish and peace till the moon fails" (Psalm 71: 7). That verse from today's psalm expresses the hopes of Israel for the Shalom, the peace of Messianic days.
That the prophet Isaiah is speaking of the Messiah, the future son of David, is clear from the mention of Jesse. David's father. The "spirit of the Lord" speaks to us of the Holy Spirit. For the prophet it meant God in his activity on earth. The wisdom and insight that he bestows have traditionally been thought of as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The prophet speaks of the knowledge, the dispositions of mind and heart, necessary for living in a relationship with God, with all peoples and all creation.
For that a prime concern is social justice. Thus the one anointed with the spirit of the Lord "gives a verdict for the poor of the Lord" and "strikes the ruthless", expressing what the Pope has called "God's preferential option for the poor", so evident in the ministry of Jesus. The psalmist also sings of God's justice and compassion in today's psalm: "He shall save the poor when they cry."
The peace and harmony pervading all creation expressed in the picture of wild beasts and gentle creatures led by a little boy "for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord" illustrates Israel's hopes for a future reign of God when all peoples, all nations will live together happily under the sovereignty of God.
That is the kingdom of which Jesus preached and which St Paul was to say meant "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14: 17). Earlier in the same epistle, from which this Sunday's reading comes, Si Paul had spoken of the hope of the renewal of all creation brought by the saving work of Christ (Romans 8: 19 23).
In Sunday's reading St Paul is concerned for peace between all peoples for Christ came as saviour of all. He appeals for understanding between peoples of different ethnic origins, so that "united in mind and voice" they may give glory to God. Today, 20 centuries later. Christians still need to learn that lesson of acceptance of the human dignity of people of different cultures, not only in the former Yugoslavia but in our own country too.
The wilderness was the place of wild beasts, of serpents, perhaps of evil spirits. It was also the place where the pilgrim people first met God. That is where St John the Baptist began to preach, calling the people to a change of heart and to a return to the way of life which God had taught them. In Advent we too are called to repentance in preparation for our Christmas celebrations of the coming of God into our world.