Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery;
put on the splendor of glory from God forever:
wrapped in the cloak of justice from God,
bear on your head the mitre
that displays the glory of the eternal name.
For God will show all the earth your splendor:
you will be named by God forever
the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.
Jerusalem! stand upon the heights;
look to the east and see your children
gathered from the east and the west
at the word of the Holy One,
rejoicing that they are remembered by God.
Led away on foot by their enemies they left you:
but God will bring them back to you
borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones.
For God has commanded
that every lofty mountain be made low,
and that the age-old depths and gorges
be filled to level ground,
that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.
The forests and every fragrant kind of tree
have overshadowed Israel at God’s command;
for God is leading Israel in joy
by the light of his glory,
with his mercy and justice for company.
R. (3) The
Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing. R. The Lord
has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed. R. The
Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those who sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing. R. The Lord
has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord
has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you,
because of your partnership for the gospel
from the first day until now.
I am confident of this,
that the one who began a good work in you
will continue to complete it
until the day of Christ Jesus.
God is my witness,
how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ
And this is my prayer:
that your love may increase ever more and more
in knowledge and every kind of perception,
to discern what is of value,
so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness
that comes through Jesus Christ
for the glory and praise of God.
In the fifteenth year of the reign
of Tiberius Caesar,
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region
of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the
John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of
as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
season of Advent and the general rush toward Christmas is
often wrapped in a yuletide blanket of cozy, comfortable
religion. We can pass through this season without too much
discomfort, I suppose, though I suspect it might be more
difficult this Advent season for some people than it would
be for others, and from what I can see of this time, a whole
lot of others. Unlike Lent with it’s ashes, penance, and
self-denial, we associate Advent with positive things and
good feelings. In modern spiritual lingo, Advent is a
first reading from Baruch does not invite us to be clothe in
the Yule-tide blanket of cozy, comfortable religion, but “in
the cloak of justice from God.” And there is nothing like
justice-talk to throw a damper on our seasonal cheer. But
if we are realistic about what’s happening in our lives
these days, the economic downfall that seems to be engulfing
our country and our communities, then this would not seem
like a season of cheer.
is the movement from justice-talk to justice-action.
Perhaps the problem lies in our understanding of justice,
something that quite possibly our judges and leaders in this
country might benefit by. For on closer inspection we can
see that justice is essential to this season and the
celebration of Jesus into our heart and history. Justice
calls for giving each person his or her due. There is the
balancing of scales and restoring those injured by daily
life and those who play fast and loose with the law. Now,
who would do that?
There is a
kind of Puritanical drudgery about justice which gives the
impression that it is only a duty. There is little zest or
passion associated with justice. Yet the Bible experiences
justice in a very different way. Justice has little to do
with the balancing scales and minimal calculations of
fairness. Justice is generosity. Justice is a passionate,
involved commitment to real human needs. I think that –
that is what John the Baptist was saying when he echoed the
words of the prophet Isaiah. His way of saying make ready
the way of the Lord, clear him a straight path, could have
been versed in a way that the people of our time could
definitely understand: put bread on the tables of those
without food, put roofs over the heads of those without
homes, put work in the hands of those without jobs, not
increase government jobs, but jobs for the working people;
put clothes on the bodies of the cold, comfort the dying and
relieve the pain of those who are suffering. Put the needs
of others before our own. That is the true joy of Advent,
and we all need to realize that.
not simply give us something and then get busy with other
things. God provides us with all that we need. And what is
more, God’s generous, just love, endures and labors for our
growth. As the people of the new covenant of God’s loving
generosity or justice, we are called to be just in like
manner. It is the season for generosity. Not the mania
giving, getting, and rushing about which is all too common.
Rather, we are called to be inwardly calm and see the many
ways God has taken the windings of our lives and made them
straight; the rough places and made them smooth.
called to do the same for one another. We are to be just
as our God is justice. We are to be generous because our
God is “generosity and grace” to each of us! If we can do
that, then as John said, “all mankind shall see the
salvation of God.”