When does a son remind his father “You are my father”? When he wants something. And so it is that, in the first reading on the First Sunday of Advent, the prophet Isaiah emphasises God’s fatherhood so that he might add an extra note of urgency to the prayer he is making on behalf of the people of Israel, who in the Old Testament are God’s firstborn (Exodus 4:22).

“You, LORD, are our father,” Isaiah pleads,

our redeemer you are named forever.

Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,

and harden our hearts so that we fear you not? (Isaiah 63:16b-17a)

Isaiah makes his request with great boldness because he recognises that only God knows our deepest desires and motivations – what Sacred Scripture calls the “heart” (see the Catechism, nos 368 and 2517) – and only God has the power to change our desires from within.

The prophet’s plea is especially suited to this First Sunday of Advent because this is the season when the Mass readings and prayers direct us to make room for Jesus in our hearts. Now is our chance to amp up our spiritual life – to pray more fervently, read the Bible, perform works of mercy, and make Confession – so we may prepare a home for the Redeemer for whom there was no room at the inn.

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