As we begin Advent, the Church presents us with a series of mind-boggling prophecies from the prophet Isaiah. These prophecies paint a picture of restoration more glorious than anything we could ask for or imagine (Eph 3:20), a restoration fashioned by the coming Messiah, the Branch of the Lord (Is 4:2).
As this is being written, Jerusalem is bloody with the aftermath of a series of suicide bombers in the marketplaces and terror in its homes. Yet the Lord, through the Messiah, wants to purge "Jerusalem's blood from her midst" (Is 4:4). He wants to so transform Jerusalem that "instruction, and the word of the Lord" will go forth from her instead of conflict (Is 2:3). Isaiah proclaims a Messiah so powerful that He can cause Israel and the Palestinians to cash in their weapons to buy seed and tractors, since they no longer have interest in fighting each other over the land (Is 2:4).
Jesus, the Messiah, has awesome power. He has fantastic plans for good (see Jer 29:11), plans which include us (Heb 11:40). Nearly everyone missed the Messiah's first Christmas coming, even after centuries of announcements from Isaiah and other prophets. Now the Church in her Advent readings tells us to get ready for Jesus' coming this Christmas. Will we, disbelieving, shrug off the fantastic prophecies as too good to be true and miss His coming again? Jesus is looking for faith (see Mt 8:10) — in Him and in His promises. This Christmas, when Jesus "comes, will He find any faith on the earth?" (Lk 18:8)