"Johannine hours" are meant as a way of seeking God in silence and prayer in the midst of our daily life. During the course of a day, take a moment to read the Bible passage with the short commentary and to reflect on the questions which follow. Afterwards, a small group people can meet to share what they have discovered and perhaps for a time of prayer.]
In a somber period of wars and invasions, the prophet of Jerusalem finds a hope that comes not from human efforts but from God's faithfulness to his designs of love. Centuries earlier, the Lord had promised the great king David: "Your house and your sovereignty will always stand firm before me" (2 Samuel 7,16). As a result of his confidence in God's promise, Isaiah celebrates the birth (or enthronement) of a royal heir by an oracle where he sees above all the activity of God who wants to bestow on his people the fullness of life.
And so, God will make sure that his people, freed from their enemies, can enjoy "peace without end." The mention of Madian (v.3, cf. Judges 7) emphasizes that this victory is inexplicable in human terms; it is a kind of miracle. Similarly the king, described as "a child" and "a son", does not seem to do much; "the zeal of the Lord Almighty" is at work, and the king is there to watch over the new order created by God. And in fact, the destruction of real enemies is not even mentioned: it is simply the instruments of violence that are consummed by the fire of divine love.
The motivation and the content of this oracle explain why it could continue to be relevant long after the king of the time had disappointed the hopes placed in him. For despite the flaws of the kings taken one by one, God's promise remains and, for those who believe, will infallibly become reality in a near or distant future. One day, in the eyes of believers, that word would become flesh. So it is not surprising that the first Christians saw in Jesus the expected "Prince of peace": in his openness to the will of God and his apparent weakness, humanly speaking, he enabled God to kindle the fire of his love on the earth (cf. Luke 12,49).
Q: What elements in and around us keep God's loving designs from becoming reality?
Q: What signs do we find that reawaken our trust by reminding us that this love is stronger than violence and death?
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