The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
Alternative 1st Reading: Isaiah 4:2-6
(for use in Year A, when Is 2:1-5 has been read on 1st Sunday of Advent)
On that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious,
and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel.
Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy,
everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem,
once the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion
and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst
by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.
Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly
a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night.
Indeed over all the glory there will be a canopy.
It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat,
and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
I rejoiced when I heard them say:
'Let us go to God's house.'
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem. (R./)
It is there that the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord.
For Israel's law it is,
there to praise the Lord's name.
There were set the thrones of judgement
of the house of David. (R./)
For the peace of Jerusalem pray:
'Peace be to your homes!
May peace reign in your walls,
in your palaces, peace!' (R./)
For love of my brethren and friends I say:
'Peace upon you!'
For love of the house of the Lord
I will ask for your good. (R./)
When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress." And he said to him, "I will come and cure him. " The centurion answered, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this,' and the slave does it. "
When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, "Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."
In the weekdays of Advent we pray a future of universal peace. Isaiah predicts that nder the guidance of the Messiah, all nations and races will live in harmony and join in worshiping the true and only God. This future will draw us beyond all narrow racial or national boundaries so that all of humanity becomes one family of faith and love. Are we willing to open our doors and welcome all these people, so different from ourselves?
In the Gospel, Jesus is invited to the home of a Roman centurion – a soldier whose job is to represent a foreign, oppressive power – and he accepts the invitation! When the Roman officer hesitates, feeling unworthy of Jesus' presence in his home, he is praised for his genuine humility. It is worth noticing that the centurion cares for the welfare of his slave, who would have been from some defeated nation. The disciples must have been amazed to see that Roman officer bowing before Jesus, for the sake of his slave!
Jesus praises this foreigner as an authentic, genuine man, a spiritual descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He still advises us to look in unlikely places and people to learn to be his true followers today. He tells us too, "I have never found this much faith" in your midst. During Advent let's give some thought to what we can learn from outsiders about how to live worthily in God's sight? If we are open, we can learn so much from unlikely sources.