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.
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 announces the living presence of God's Spirit and Jesus rejoices in it. Judging from these two passages of Isaiah and Luke, the Spirit leads to a scene of paradise where calf and the young lion browse together, with a little child caring for them. Such an ideal is the kind of prospect that is hidden from the learned and the clever, and revealed to the merest children.
The Isaiah text can seem an idyllic fairy-tale, not to be taken literally. The calf and the young lion will never graze together babies should not be allowed to play near the cobra's den. Yet the dream of universal peace and trust is worth holding on to and praying for. When our faith dreams of a better future, Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit and says: "I praise you, 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."
A shoot shall grow from the stump of David. Only strong, dedicated adults can remain persons of faith when their former hopes, their equivalent to the Davidic dynasty, is cut down and nothing seems to remain. All of us have lived through harrowing experiences and frustration in our society and in our church. Many who have dreamed the highest dreams felt betrayed by what they found in fact. People who hope for little, lose little and suffer less. Only when we offer to God our best without needing to know the full story, can God transform us beyond our hopes. At the heart of our existence lies a mystery which no one knows except Jesus and the heavenly Father - "and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal" it. Isaiah declared that "the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord as the water covers the sea." The mystery of who we are teems all around us. Like a child - like Jesus - we must rejoice in the Holy Spirit.
Today offers one of the rare examples of where the Gospel lets us overhear the prayer of Jesus. He is shown praying in the joy of the Holy Spirit. The fullest form of prayer in our own lives is prompted by the Holy Spirit within us. At its best, our prayer is entering into the ongoing prayer of the Holy Spirit deep within our hearts. Jesus give thanks to God for all those who have welcomed the revelation of his own intimate relationship with God.
It is people of child-like spirit who have received this revelation, those considered weak and vulnerable, while those regarded as learned and clever have rejected this revelation. Jesus addresses his own disciples as among those who have received Jesus' revelation of his own intimate relationship with God, "Happy the eyes that see what you see. Advent is a time when we try to open our eyes more fully to what the Lord is trying to reveal to us. It is a season when we become like children so as to receive with greater openness what the Lord is offering us, a share in his own intimate relationship with God.