ISAIAH 45:6-8; LUKE 7:18-23

I AM THE LORD, THERE IS NO OTHER.  As the subsequent statements of this declaration of Isaiah make clear, this word of God himself, spoken through his chosen prophet, is such a sweepingly broad and fundamental claim that it confronts every human person with a radical choice.  What choice one makes proves to be life changing, whether we are aware of the scope of its significance or not.  In our own country we are experiencing at this time how this choice affects the social and political areas of our lives.   A majority of the delegates at the Democratic Presidential Convention voted to keep all mention of God out of their platform; it is not surprising that the man they nominated for President, though claiming to be a Christian, proposes legislation that many Protestants as well as Catholic bishops and laypersons recognize is clearly opposed to Christian belief and practice.

This text from Israel's greatest prophet witnesses, along with numerous other passages in the Bible, to the fact that the choice of belief in the one God who rules over all the created universe, requires to be reasserted and maintained by each generation, and repeatedly in each of our hearts.   We cannot take such belief for granted today, nor could the Jewish believers of Isaiah's times.  If this text is proclaimed to the whole Roman Church at the Advent liturgy its function is to confront each of us with the issue of our own trusting faith in our God.  How well do we carry through with its implications, for, as Saint James states "the devils also believe and tremble." (2:19) The lives of the saints through the centuries reveal what the practical demands of such belief can require.  In order to respond to God's plan for each of us we must learn to recognize it in concrete situations in all their varied circumstances.   For, as Jesus repeatedly asserted, only those with a pure heart can discern the Father's will.  Faith is more than intellectual assent to truth revealed by the Lord of all.  We cannot hope consistently to act from faith unless we cultivate a strong trust in God's love for us as well as in his merciful grace in our manifold needs.

Advent is provided for us in order to support and encourage our trusting confidence in the Lord's loving fidelity to His promise to send us a Savior.   Isaiah, in other chapters of his book has been assuring us that such loving concern for his people is consistently evidenced by God's explicit assurances.   He will send us a mediator who possesses both knowledge and healing power to be employed for the true and eternal happiness of his chosen ones.   May we renew and deepen our trusting confidence that the Eternal, all-powerful God shows His fidelity to this promise by sending His beloved Son to each of us, here, at this Eucharistic altar, today.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger