Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk
4 December 2017
You are in the crowd, surrounded. Before you, He slowly rises, and silence comes across all who are gathered. You lean in, straining to hear what he has to say. There is an eager anticipation in the crowd and electric atmosphere. This man, God’s mouthpiece, begins to speak, his words cutting you to the very core. First, he warns and condemns, then he promises hope and a life of love. The crowd around you is divided, restless, murmuring. Some agree while others get angry and begin to revolt. This is the life of a prophet. This was the life of Isaiah.
Prophet’s stood alongside Priests to represent God on earth, leading the people to the truth. The prophet’s role was to speak for God, to confront by speaking the commands and promises of God. Because of the confrontational nature of the prophet, most prophets were not very popular. But even though their message was not always heeded, their witness to talk the talk and walk the walk paved the way for Christ and His Church.
Today’s first reading comes from the book of Isaiah – the first book of the prophets in the Bible and, arguably, the greatest of the prophets. The book has an incredible divide, with the first half including warnings and scathing denunciations as Isaiah calls Judah, Israel and all the people to repent and seek forgiveness form, God. The second half of the book is filled with consolation and hope as Isaiah speaks of future promises of God’s blessing through Christ. Let is break open this first reading, imagine that it is Isaiah, a strong and courageous spokesman of God, speaking to you. Listen to his message through the lens of your own life: do you talk the talk and walk the walk?
The scripture allows us to walk, up a mountain to meet God (Yahweh). On this pilgrimage, we are surrounded by all peoples, Jews, Gentiles and all others united in spite of our differences. The one thing that does unite us is a desire, a yearning to learn God’s ways and walk in God’s path.
“He will teach us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths” provides the key to the spiritual life. We must seek to encounter Christ and learn the truth that will set us free. From this encounter, we are called to follow Christ, every day, through cultivating a personal relationship with him and walk down the path that he leads us.
Walking in God’s paths involves a choice.; you can only walk on one path at a time. While it might seem that the path, narrow as it may be, restricts your options, it is a life-giving choice. Jesus promises us:
“Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
This choice, however, requires an action. It is not enough to know what to say or where to go, but you must talk the talk and walk the walk. If on this journey up the mountain of the Lord, we keep our gaze fixed on the Christ, then we are promised peace. The scripture finished with powerful imagery that the Lord will provide a peace the surpasses all understanding.
Did you know that this text (Isaiah 2:4) is engraved on a wall at the United Nations in New York, with a large sculpture of a blacksmith beating a sword into a plowshare on the grounds of the UN? This desire for peace through encountering the Prince of Peace must be both our desire and our invitation to those we meet. Let us pause and take a moment to imagine all the things that will no longer be necessary if the peace that Christ promises came over your life? What about this same peace covering the whole world? What an incredible transformation.
So may we make this our challenge today; to talk the talk and walk the ‘walk in the light of the Yahweh.’ May, through its actions, the Church become a beacon of light that draws all people, everywhere and all the time, into the peace of the Lord.