The Readings for the 3rd Wednesday of Advent (A1)
Memorial of St John of the Cross, Priest & Doctor of the Church
- Isaiah 45:6C-8, 18, 21C-25
- Psalm 85 (Responsorial)
- Isaiah 40:9-10 (Gospel Acclamation)
- Luke 7:18b-23
Heavens above, rain down justice; let the clouds pour it down. Let the earth open, so that salvation springs up, and justice sprouts with it. I, Adonai, have created it.Isaiah 45:8 (CJB)
READING this verse (or, as is common at this time of year, hearing it sung) always makes me think of a Greek Myth wherein Zeus appears as a rain of golden fire to Danaë, which is how she conceived Perseus. It is one of the more poetic of lines from Isaiah, addressed to Cyrus, the King of Persia, whom Isaiah calls “messiah” in 45:1. It is the liberation of the Jews from Babylon that is happening here, by the anointed hands of Cyrus.
God is using human politics to bring about divine ends. Cyrus did things for his own reasons (and for his own god, Marduk) yet the one, Almighty God appointed him to be the liberator of the Jews from their Captivity into which he – God – had sent them for their sins. This is Almighty God acting in history through the free will and agency of a human actor. This is how God has chosen to act in almost all of human history. He has condescended to enter into relationship with us wearing the face of our neighbor, meeting us where we are, and conveying to us his grace in the hands of those around us.
What about those who are not “one of us”?
Well, as with Cyrus, even praying to Marduk, God can cause divine grace to pour through his actions, through his politics. And in those places where God was not sending the Hebrew Prophets to prepare his way he was still preparing his way. The Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus, certainly, but actually, the whole world is such. How can it not be? All truth leads to the Truth. All light is but a reflection of the Light. All true life is but an echo of the Light. There is only one story, one way.
Or, you can walk off the screen. Your choices is valued and real. You can decide to reject the grace literally pouring in from everywhere.
Then it will be fire (for it always has been).