"A little child shall guide them" (Isaiah 11:7).
In the midst of crisis, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed God's promise that history would unfold to guide the Chosen People through suffering and displacement to a future of peace and security. "There will be no harm or ruin on my holy mountain." The sign that peace has come to even natural rivals in the animal kingdom is that a little child will guide them.
Jesus invoked this same dream when he burst into praise and thanked his heavenly Father for revealing to the childlike what the learned and clever have failed to understand. God's grace is at work in the innocent. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the Earth. The little ones who depend entirely on God will be the first to be lifted up and embraced by mercy.
Advent invites us all into this wisdom. If we want to find peace, we must become childlike again in the trust that God keeps promises and will never abandon us. Even in the midst of adversity, we need not be afraid.
In a conversation with the Jesuits gathered in Rome, Pope Francis once confessed that there were times when he felt pessimistic. But at the end of each day, he said, he is able to look back and see God's love at work in his life, and this renews his confidence. In life's ordinary struggles, disappointments and even in our failures, God is still blessing us and advancing good through us. This is the confidence that Advent renews in us.