Summary: If we follow the wisdom of Isaiah, we will be effective leaders for good.
Christmas Eve December 24 2009
From the stump of Jesse
The short reading from Isaiah we just heard is part of a longer passage that ends in a familiar passage: the reign of the king prophesied here will by ideal and idyllic. “Uprightness will be the belt around his waist, and constancy the belt about his hips. The wolf will live with the lamb, the panther lie down with the kid, calf, lion and fat–stock beast together, with a little boy to lead them.” It all sounds impossible, doesn’t it? But in the new social system envisioned by Jesus, and lived for a time in history in the Church, things like this did happen, and can happen again. In the middle ages–another time of global warming, by the way–the Church imposed penalties upon those who warred in the forbidden times. There were periods of respite from combat, when warring partners laid down their weapons, and the poor were not victimized. It was the revolution of the sixteenth century that changed all that. With no spiritual authority, rulers could victimize the poor, make war all during the growing season, and afflict the whole European continent. That’s why historians call the Thirty Years War the first true world war, the first modern war with no restrictions on victimizing civilians. It was the Protestant Revolution’s worst social legacy.
At this time of Christmas, we pray for peace. But peace–which is a cessation of war but is also a time of service and sharing–cannot come without leaders who are bred in the image of the Messiah. They need wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge and piety and, especially, fear of the Lord. This was the curriculum vitae of Jesus. In Him, fear of the Lord becomes unreserved love of the Lord and His people. Perfect love drives out fear. The fear that we should aspire to is the fear of losing the beloved because of our own weakness and sin. It’s the fear every leader should strive for with all his being. So as we pray for peace, let’s pray for world leaders, especially our President and Congress. Let’s pray that they have true fear of the Lord and pass legislation that respects the human rights of all, especially the unborn defenseless babies and the elderly.