ADVENT Week 1: Sunday and Tertullian of Carthage

“He shall judge between the nations, and set terms for many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again...” (Isaiah 2:4.)

Tertullian of Carthage comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“The gospel will be this “way” of the new law and the new word in Christ, no longer in Moses. “And he shall judge among the nations,” even concerning their error. “And these shall rebuke a large nation,” that of the Jews themselves and their proselytes. “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares;” in other words, they shall change into pursuits of moderation and peace the dispositions of injurious minds, hostile tongues and all kinds of evil and blasphemy. You learn here that Christ is promised not as powerful in war but pursuing peace.

Long ago did Isaiah declare that “out of Zion should go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem,” some other law, that is, and another word. In short, he says, “He shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people,” meaning not those of the Jewish people only, but also of the nations which are judged by the new law of the gospel and the new word of the apostles, and are among themselves rebuked of their old error as soon as they have believed. And as the result of this, “They beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears (which are a kind of hunting instrument) into pruning hooks.” That is to say, minds that once were fierce and cruel are changed by the gospel and the word of the apostles into good dispositions productive of good fruit.” (Against Marcion, 3 and 4.)

Reflections on this Sunday’s First Reading in the context of the Season of Advent.

Grant Your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet Your Christ
with righteous deeds at His coming,
so that, gathered at His right hand,
they may be worthy
to possess the heavenly Kingdom.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen