Jerusalem was built on the top of a high elevation—Mount Zion, for military purposes to protect it from attack. The Bible tells us that the world will end with all the nations of the world streaming up to the top of Mount Zion. This assembly will mark the ultimate climax of human history, the final encounter of all humanity with the power of God, when God’s cause will gain the final victory.
The prophet Isaiah chose beautiful words to capture this anxiously anticipated moment. The words are engraved today on a wall facing the United Nations building in New York City. Delegates of the world body see those words whenever they exit the UN compound, reminding them what their real work of diplomacy is supposed to be about. This is to be finally the birthplace of world peace—a dream that has inspired every generation throughout human history.
That is why the refrain for our Responsorial Psalm is “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.”
The second reading also directs our attention to the future. It speaks of the hour when our salvation will come. But it sounds a more threatening note. Invoking the familiar biblical imagery of light and darkness and sleeping and waking, St Paul warns us to wake up because the end is approaching. It is time to come into the light. He sends his morally challenging message to the people of Rome.
In our Gospel reading, Jesus addresses the hopes and anxieties with which we anticipate the future. It is the great theme of the beginning of Advent as we pray for God to come to us, to save us and our world from all the disasters that threaten us.
—Walter Modrys SJ
This Sunday’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.