Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Lectionary: 246

In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you;
and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land
and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!
To those in darkness: Show yourselves!

The Church reveres the Prophet Isaiah as one who foresaw most clearly the identity and mission of the Messiah. When Jesus studied the Prophet’s words he found himself. It was as clear to him as an old photograph of myself would be to me. There was no denying or avoiding the person who gazed at him through these ancient prophecies; there could be no evasion of his mission.

During Holy Week, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday we will hear Isaiah’s four “Suffering Servant” passages that most clearly describe the Messiah, but today’s selection suggests the good things to come:
“I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people.”

Jesus, the Son of God who has come to live among us, who is both entirely divine as God the Father is divine, and unquestionably human as the son of Mary, is the bond – the covenant – between us and God. Embracing him we meet God. Embracing him we meet everyone whom he has embraced in a sacred assembly.

Isaiah says the Messiah will restore the land. I recently finished a book by psychiatrist/philosopher Paul Tournier, published in English, in 1957. He mentions three relationships of the self: with God, others and the self. He overlooked the all-important relationship with the Earth. Only in the last half-century have we begun to see more clearly that we are desecrating the Earth. We had no idea burning fossil fuel, which seemed providentially available for all our energy needs, might wreak such havoc. Nor did we imagine how our demand for energy might grow exponentially. What seemed a simple matters of economics has become a spiritual crisis, and without the wisdom and courage of the Messiah, we will destroy our own mother planet. 

Isaiah's Messiah will say to the prisoners, "Come out!" Prisons, of course, are built of fear. We use them to protect us from bad people, and to protect bad people from us. Without them we might randomly, mercilessly destroy those we fear. “Stand your ground!” would become the law of the land as we gunned down every suspicious person.

The Messiah says to us, “Come out” of your fear. You don’t need it anymore. To those in darkness, “Show yourselves.”

Aldous Huxley called his dystopian novel, "A Brave New World." Indeed, the world eagerly awaits the courageous leadership of Christians, under the banner of Christ, who will lead us out of fear to freedom.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.