We hear from the Prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading that a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David, one of the Old Testament leaders idealized by the Jews. It is important to know where we come from, who we are related to, and our history as a people. The Prophet Isaiah was telling the people that one day there will be one who comes to lead the people from the lineage of David. The equivalent for us would be someone saying that a leader from the line of Abraham Lincoln was going to arise in our midst. We see Lincoln as a great leader who rid the country of the evil of slavery. The people of Isaiah’s time would see King David as that type of leader: someone to emulate. We will hear from Isaiah every week of Advent because his prophetic writing opens our minds to the idea that a savior would come, a messiah who would lead the people. There were ideas among the people that the Messiah would be a military leader like David who would free Judah from their oppressors. That idea was still alive when Jesus, the true Messiah, came on the human scene. The idea of freedom from a conquering country appeals to everyone, so we can understand why this idea was popular. But Jesus was not that kind of leader; rather, he came to free us from the chains of sin. This is the greatest victory ever, yet the worldly don’t seem to care about this sort of freedom, as they are more concerned with things of the world.
But we are not to be concerned with what others feel is important. We are to follow God’s ways: the ways the Messiah taught. These teachings are found in Sacred Scripture, one of the pillars Catholics uphold along with Sacred Tradition. That is why we need to understand our past and read His Word; why our scripture and tradition are important. So as we progress through Advent, reflect upon what Isaiah points to and celebrate in our hearts that He has come among us.