ISAIAH 29:17-24 ; MATTHEW 9:27-31

Isaiah is the favored prophet during this time of Advent; he sets the appropriate tone of expectation and of preparation by a conversion of heart.   As we become more familiar with his writings the meaning of this liturgical season becomes increasingly evident.   He stresses many features that, some seven hundred years later were to be ascribed to Christ himself and associated with his ministry.   Not the least of these qualities attributed to our Lord is his power to give light to the physically blind. Even more meaningful is his bestowing spiritual light to those in darkness.  In today's text Isaiah proclaims that the time will come when "out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see."   As the prophet continues his prophesy it becomes clear that the physical light he speaks of here is associated with a spiritual insight and leads to a growth in understanding of God himself and His ways.  He has God state these words: "When his (Jacob's) children see the work of my hands in his midst, they shall keep my name holy.  They shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob and be in awe of the God of Israel."

In the Gospels Jesus is identified as the light that has come into this world.  He is "the light that is life"as St. John declares of him in the first lines of his Gospel.  He adds concerning the Word that "in him was life and the life is the light of the world." (1:4). John presents Jesus at the beginning of his account of our Lord's birth and his whole life as the light shinning in the darkness of our spirit as well as in the gloom of this world, to give us assurance that by following him we are being transformed by the energies of grace that shine in his person and are reflected in his body.  The image of light as a source of spiritual energy has been enhanced in recent times by the latest view of physicists that light is sheer electromagnetic energy, having no mass.  That there is an emanation of spiritual light associated with the person of Jesus is the message given by all four evangelists in their separate accounts of the Mt. tabor transfiguration.  In Jesus is realized the communication of light that Isaiah refers to in today's first reading.  Our Lord himself was keenly aware of this inner brightness that was his to impart to those of good will.   Isaiah had declared to his fellow Jews with these words: "let us walk in the light of the Lord."(2:5) As if to clarify the nature of this light our Lord openly told the Pharisees: "I am the light of the world.  Who follows me does not walk in darkness but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Advent is a season to sharpen our interior eye, to train our interior senses so that we are able to recognize with the eyes of the spirit the forms of the true life that God assumes in the words and deeds of His beloved Son.  Here and now at this Eucharist he not only manifests himself to us in his words but communicates his very self to us, for the body and blood we receive at the altar.  Strengthened by this spiritual food let us walk with Isaiah and the holy ones in the light of the Lord.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger