Reflection by Sister Briana Elisabeth Craddock
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.”
When I read today’s passage from Isaiah, I get that all-over “warm fuzzy” feeling that Advent brings. An end to violence seems possible. Peace seems to be on the horizon. Advent is a season full of promise, and with it come the hope and expectation that things will finally be different.
Today’s passage is more than just a “feel good” passage, however. Isaiah juxtaposes the sword, which is an instrument of death, with a plowshare, which is an instrument of life. The sword rends the body and causes the body to die, while the plowshare creates a furrow in the soil so that seeds can be planted and new life can begin. Likewise, a spear is a weapon that is meant to harm a person, while a pruning hook is used to cut back fruit trees so that they can become healthier and produce even more fruit. Isaiah tells us that in order to walk in God’s ways, we must beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks. In other words, peace does not just happen; we have to make the conscious decision to change our death-dealing ways into life-giving ones.
While we may not wield swords in our everyday lives, we do things that are in opposition to creating an environment for life and growth. We gossip. We make “snarky” comments. We choose to remain silent instead of offering a word of encouragement or a listening ear. We roll our eyes, sometimes just internally, when “that person” does “that thing” that we cannot stand. If we really want peace, though, we have to make the choice to choose life in all that we do. Peace is on the horizon, but we need to change our lives so that we are helping to bring it about in this time and in this place.
Questions for Reflection:
What swords do I use that I need to beat into plowshares?
What is one choice that I can make today to help bring about new life?