During Advent we hear many Old Testament Scripture readings from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. They foretell the coming of the Jesus. Prophets had the ministry of speaking God’s message to the people and Isaiah brought God’s promise of the Messiah and Savior to the Jewish people in captivity.
As Isaiah realized the ministry to which God was calling him he protested that he was “…a man of unclean lips…” (Is 6:5) In a vision, an angel removed an ember from the altar with tongs and purified his lips that he might speak God’s word. The ember and tongs are at the bottom of the window below the scroll bearing Isaiah’s name.
The Hoy Spirit is over his right shoulder, symbolizing the action of the Spirit in the message of the prophet.
One of Isaiah’s prophesies states “…a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse and from his root a bud shall blossom” (Is 11:1) indicating that Jesus would be a descendant of Jesse and therefore of King David, Jesse’s son. The Jewish monarchy became strong under King David, but many subsequent monarchs were corrupt and not faithful to God. The Jewish people were taken into captivity and the monarchy died out. A king lies beneath Isaiah’s feet. He is pale representing the fallen monarchy, “… the stump of Jesse.” From the king a plant is growing and it rises up beside the prophet. On a flower above his head is seated the glorified Christ Child, whose hands are extended in a sign of salvation for all. Isaiah is pointing to him, as all of his prophesy pointed to the Savior. Flowers along the stem of the plant resemble crowns suggesting the royalty of Jesus, whose Kingship supplanted the Jewish monarchy.
Isaiah is dressed in red, symbolic of the Holy Spirit and also of martyrdom. Along with prophesying about the birth of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied about his suffering and death for our salvation. May we be encouraged by the words of this prophet as we hear them at Mass, knowing that the Savior to whom Isaiah pointed is present to us today.