The only real Arrival (Isaiah 65,17-end; Matthew 3,1-14,11)
‘For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.’
Isaiah’s speaks to us Christians with great relevance. We tend to read the story of God’s Covenant with the people of Israel somewhat from the ‘outside’. For whatever reason, we regard it as ‘a kind of past’… ‘which is kind of not ours’. The Covenant is somewhere ‘there’, outside us.
This is here where prophet Isaiah speaks to our heart. He is our prophet! He wants us to understand that God’s forming the historical Covenant is taking place right now. We should feel being part of this Covenant, this first gift! We are part of its creation: from Sinai to Jesus, it is one overarching, all embracing Love. We are part, right now of what happened to Israel, to their emergence as God’s people! This co-temporality, also from God’s perspective, is beautifully expressed in the words: ‘And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying… And they shall build houses and inhabit them.’
Reading the Covenant as our present birth, we Christians, are no longer dispersed in an undefinable, ungraspable drift, our present exile, the world of religious indifference. Instead, we see ourselves at the heart of the Covenant. We are no longer dispersed local communities ebbing away from each other… marked by an unstoppable religious decline. The Covenant is not a remote lifeless story. God’s voice is no longer distant, but is the Lord’s historical coming - through, and from within our story.
Listening to classical music (perhaps true to all music), for me, illustrates this (re)emergence of the Covenant. Listening to the unfolding movements of a piece is about the emergence of order out of the chaos of millions of disordered sounds. Music is always ‘a Covenant of order’. Out of chaos and despair, God summons ‘his people to be’, united in a chorus of singers who rejoice over being part of a genuine unity. Bela Bartok’s Three Hungarian Folk Songs from Csík, and his Fourteen Bagatelles played by Zoltán Kocsis are a musical confirmation of the above vision of the Covenant. We become one with God’s offer in history, right now. Both Jews and Christians: there are no late comers. Again, Isaiah is our prophet.
The scene of the temptation in Matthew’s Gospel helps us focus on saying yes to God’s offer, a Covenant with Him. Satan’s temptation, his offers to Jesus, exemplify the ‘waste’ of those energies which are needed for forging this covenant with God.
Even more, we can read this waste of concentration as a powerful parable of the ‘cyber space’. Sadly, this has become a space of permanent distraction, the space of missed opportunities. Unstable, flickering images take up place of the only real Arrival.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..