The readings at mass in the first week of Advent return us to the Litany of the Sacred Heart! On the first Sunday of Advent we read that Isaiah’s vision (Isaiah. 2:1-5) describes the ‘Temple of the Lord’ towering above the mountains which will draw all the nations to it so that he may ‘teach us his ways’ so that we can walk in his paths and in his light. The litany asks us to pray to the Heart of Jesus as the ‘ holy temple of God’! The Psalm ( Psalm 121) invites us to ‘go to God’s House’ and the Litany asks us to pray to the Sacred Heart as ‘the house of God’. On the first Monday of Advent the readings (Isaiah, 4:2-6)tell us that the Lord will cleanse Jerusalem and will be a ‘flaring fire’ and the glory of the Lord will be a ‘canopy and a tent to give shade by day and heat by night’. Again, the Litany calls us to pray to the Heart of Jesus as the tent (that is ‘tabernacle’) of the Most High. We are also reminded in this context that Jesus is the Temple which was destined to be destroyed and rise again in three days! Isaiah also brings to mind Matthew (11-28-29): ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’
Advent is a time of waiting and preparing for that moment when God came to live with us: to love us as God incarnate. At Christmas we draw hope from our humble God with a human heart asleep in the stable.
On the Tuesday of Advent we read in Isaiah that the Emmanuel will have the spirit of wisdom, counsel and knowledge. Once again the Litany of the Sacred Heart reminds us that Jesus is the wisdom of God - in whose heart we find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Later, we will hear of the ‘wise men’ who have followed a star to find this great treasure. Jesus tells us that we must learn from his heart. We do this when, like Mary, we open pour hearts to God. On Wednesday – which was also the feast of the great defender of icons – St. John Damascene – we read Psalm 22, in which we pray to dwell in the Lord’s house for ever and ever. And the Lord’s house is, of course, the Sacred Heart.
On the last day of the first week of Advent we reflect on hope. As the Litany says: the Heart of Jesus is the ‘hope of all who die in him’. The reading from Isaiah (30) puts it a little differently, happy those who live in the Lord. The Psalm (146) reminds that ‘ Happy are all who hope in the Lord’. He will heal the ‘broken hearted’ raise up the lowly and humble’. We wait for the child to be born who contains a ‘wisdom that can never be measured’.