First Monday in Advent - December 3rd
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The serpent promises that if they do this they will be like God. If they take it upon themselves to decide ultimately what is good and what is evil, if they are the final authority to which all judgment of good and evil is referred, if they themselves become the source of moral standards, then they will be like God. But, as orthodox Christianity has held through the ages, they become instead the progenitors of Fallen Humanity. Fallen away from the true Source to which human reason, human love, and all lesser powers and authorities must rightfully refer. Fallen away from Reality itself, from the Sanity that recognizes our creatureliness in the face of the Divine. Today's readings from Isaiah and Matthew look forward to the state of Redeemed Humanity -- Sanity is restored, True Authority is recognized universally, and this brings the Peace of Jerusalem among all nations. The Lord's mountain will rise above all other mountains on earth, and all nations will stream toward it, "that he may instruct us in his ways, that we will walk in his paths." Finally, humanity will freely accept God's instruction and judgment, because we will have realized that in them only is our true Good. And God leads people from every faith and nation -- God's cultivation of a chosen people, and Christ's coming to a certain place and time, have as their end the salvation of all humanity. It is the Roman centurion who recognizes Christ: "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed." In turn, Christ promises that "many will come from the east and the west to the "banquet in the Kingdom of heaven."