Our readings for this coming Sunday include Isaiah 65:17-25; Isaiah 12 (VU 880); and Luke 21:5-19. The first reading from Isaiah is a promise about an incredibly better Jerusalem where no harm will be done by animals or humans and all will have what they need. Isaiah 12 is a short hymn of praise to God for what God has done. After these two rose blossoms, we have the reading from Luke which mixes painful thorns with the promise, thorns of conflict and suffering.
The Empire of God / Empire of Heaven that was the topic of many of the parable told by Jesus is a much different kind of place than the world in his time or in our time, just as the vision offered by Isaiah was incredibly different. Many writers including Pierre de Chardin and Bruce Sanguin point to the unfolding of creation in ways that challenge common understandings of humanity and the world. De Chardin pointed to evolution that happens in leaps with humanity approaching the next leap of consciousness with unpredictable results. Sanguin claims the dominant pattern of the universe is one of self-sacrifice in the course of the development of increasingly complex realities.
For followers of Jesus, what is coming is a kind of existence for which the reading from Isaiah is a metaphor, a world in which all have access to what they need, and all give of self so that others have what they need. For most of us, most of the time, this sounds pretty wonderful. However the development of such a world requires dramatic changes to the world we have, and change is always resisted.
As we consider promises in Isaiah and in the Gospels, let us discern the bumps and potholes of resistance in the path on the way to those promises.