A Joyful Integrity

by Digitalnun on December 3, 2013

Isaiah is the poet of Advent. We begin the Church’s new year at a time when the earth is dark, quiet, strangely still, and we are asked to open our hearts and minds to embrace a silence that stretches beyond the furthest star — the silence in which the Word of God takes flesh and comes to live among us. But because we need words with which to understand that silence, lyrical words that will speak to us even when we would rather not hear, the Church provides us with many readings from the prophet Isaiah. To one who believes, silence is never merely an absence of sound, never, in any sense, an absence of meaning. Isaiah must have been a man of  deep and persevering prayer, at home with silence, for in his words we find an echo not only of messianic joy but also of messianic fervour. Today he is supremely joyful and eloquent about that most awkward and uncomfortable thing, living with integrity (Isaiah 11. 1–10).

Integrity is not for the faint-hearted. It is panther-like in its grip on honesty; wolf-like in its tireless pursuit of truth; lion-like in its refusal to give way. It is often disparaged by those who are not themselves honest or truthful because, for all the demands it makes, integrity is rather unspectacular. It is one of those quiet virtues that can turn the world upside down, and it is very much what we are asked to practise in these days of Advent. Today’s gospel (Luke 10.21–24) talks about the hiddenness of the Kingdom, the messianic promise fulfilled but not recognized. We, who are watching and waiting for the coming of the Lord, need to be alert to the signs of His presence. Living with integrity is an important way of ensuring that we will be ready to welcome the Word when He comes, but it must not be a glum, self-regarding integrity. It must be radiantly joyful, free, full of the poetry of love and devotion.

St Francis Xavier, whose feast it is today, was, by all accounts, a man of singularly joyful integrity who won people to Christ by what he was, as much as by what he said. Let us make our own the collect for the day:

Lord God, you won so many peoples to yourself
by the preaching of St Francis Xavier.
Give us the same zeal he had for the faith
and let your Church rejoice
to see the virtue and number of her children increase
throughout the world.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

3 comments

Amen.

by Margaret on Tuesday, 3 December, 2013 at 9:50 am. #

I was curious about the different animals referred to in today’s reading from Isaiah and so looked up the passage on the excellent Bible Gateway site. This site has translations I have never heard of including the ‘Jewish Bible’. In this version it is made clear that the ‘Lord’ that is referred to in the text is Adonai. Like Root of Jesse, Adonai is one of the O Antiphons that we come to later in Advent. Now I am curious about which of the many names of God, Isaiah will use over the next days and weeks. I wait in eager anticipation.

by Patricia on Tuesday, 3 December, 2013 at 8:24 pm. #

I’m very fond of the Jewish Bible and wouldn’t be without it. A lovely Advent exercise is to go through the scriptures noting the different names of God and then using them as a way of approaching prayer.

by Digitalnun on Thursday, 5 December, 2013 at 10:44 am. #


Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief