A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den.
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
O God, give your judgement to the king,
to a king's son your justice,
that he may judge your people in justice
and your poor in right judgement. (R./)
In his days justice shall flourish
and peace till the moon fails.
He shall rule from sea to sea,
from the Great River to the earth's bounds. (R./)
For he shall save the poor when they cry
and the needy who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak
and save the lives of the poor. (R./)
May his name be blessed for ever
and endure like the sun.
Every tribe shall be blessed in him,
all nations bless his name. (R./)
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."
Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it."
Isaiah announced the work of the Spirit and Jesus rejoiced in it. This Spirit seems fragile and tender. If we judge from these two passages of Isaiah and Luke, the Spirit leads to a scene of paradise where the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. Such seeming fairy-tales are hidden from the learned and the clever, and revealed to the merest children."
The passage from Isaiah may sound like an innocent fairy-tale, but embedded in it is a tragic truth. The stump of Jesse refers to the mighty dynasty of king David that has been cut down like a tree. Nothing remains but a dry stump and some hidden roots. When this tree was cut down by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. the people were shocked to realise that the dynasty was not really eternal. But had not God assured David: "your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever" (2 Sam 7:16). What they took as the obvious meaning of these words was not what God intended.
Isaiah knew that God must always be true to his word; hence the dynasty in some way will revive. The spirit of the Lord will rest upon the stump and the roots of Jesse, and the people of God will bloom again. This leads to the almost fairy-tale vision of Isaiah about the Messianic age. Perhaps calves and young lions will never browse together, literally, and surely babies should never be allowed to play beside the cobra's den. Yet the dream of universal peace and gentle trust is so wonderful that not even our fairy-tales adequately measure up to it! Surely faith dreams in these creative ways, for Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit and says: "I offer you praise, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children."
Sometimes, after we have done our best, that best must collapse so that God's dreams for us may be fulfilled. At the heart of our existence is a mystery which no one knows except Jesus and the heavenly Father -- and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal it. This mystery is Jesus himself, a child stripped of his divinity in order to communicate God to us; and still further, a human being stripped of humanity on the cross of death to reveal the fullness of love. This thought may help in times like ours, when our beloved Church seems diminished and in some disarray.