“The way of the just is smooth; the path of the just you make level. Yes, for your way and your judgments, O Lord, we look to you; Your name and your title are the desire of our souls. My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you; When your judgment dawns upon the earth, the world’s inhabitants learn justice.” (from Isaiah 26, Office of Readings)
In today’s Office of Readings, the prophet Isaiah speaks of a soul that looks to the Lord to find his way, who yearns for God in the night and keeps vigil within so that he might behold the judgment of the Lord and learn justice. On the other hand, there are the wicked souls who will not look to the Lord or learn justice. It is for them that the hand of the Lord is uplifted and a fire is prepared for chastisement.
Throughout Advent, we are confronted with difficult passages that challenge our lack of zeal along with our refusal to look to the Lord and call upon His name. When we read of the Lord’s just judgments, we are tempted to cast them aside or project them onto others. But St. James says, “Steady your hearts, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. See! The judge stands at the gate” (Reading, Evening Prayer). Indeed, the judge “stands at the gates, and knocks” (Revelation 3:20). The question is, when the Lord returns will He find it “empty, swept, and put in order” (Matthew 12:44)?
Advent provides us the opportunity to “enter your chambers, and close your doors behind you… [to] hide yourselves for a brief moment” in order to cleanse our hearts for the coming of our Savior. To do this, we must look to the Lord and call upon His name. He is a God who saves! We must remain steadfast in prayer and keep vigil, stoking the flames of desire as we wait patiently like the farmer who “awaits the precious yield of the soil” (Reading, Evening Prayer).
We also must be honest with ourselves and acknowledge the wickedness that remains in us. We know that the Lord desires those dead in their sin to live and their corpses to rise. He wants to descend “like dew from above, like gentle rain” from the skies (Reading, Morning Prayer). If only our hearts would be softened through repentance, they would open and salvation would bud forth.
Let us then “prepare the way for Christ our Lord” (Concluding Prayer). Let us turn to Him in humility, making His name and His title the desire of our souls. May we learn to yearn for His judgments, knowing that He is just and that He will “mete out peace to us” (from Isaiah 26, Office of Readings). For He has said “I will help you… I am your Savior, the Holy One of Israel” (Antiphon, Canticle of Zechariah).