December 13, 2012

For I, the Lord your God,  hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear,  I will help you.’

Do not fear, you worm Jacob,  you insect. Israel! I will help you, says the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. Now, I will make of you a threshing-sledge, sharp, new, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. Then you shall rejoice in the Lord; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive; I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, so that all may see and know, all may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

The Redeemer

In the forty-first chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah, God gives inspiration to drill sergeants everywhere. Our Lord starts off reassuringly “For I am the LORD, your God, who grasps your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.'”

And then He begins the breaking down of Israel, boot camp style: “Fear not, O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel; I will help you, says the Lord; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah gives voice to the notion that Divine purgation is a necessary step to redemption. We must be broken down before we can be built up again.

And in any authentic act of purgation, sadism is out of the question. God is not belittling His people because He is a cruel God; The Holy One of Israel is the redeemer here. In Hebrew, the word for “redeemer” is goel, or one who frees from slavery and avenges suffering. This is Our Lord’s aim: to have our eyes opened to our errors, then to raise us up from maggots to the rightful glorified Children of God that we were made to be.

Hearers of the prophet Isaiah might also remember another time in Scripture when the word goel or “redeemer” was used. It comes from Leviticus where the law is given: “Even after he has thus sold himself into slavery, he still has the right of redemption; he may be redeemed by one of his own brothers . . .”

So this Advent, look for Christ, our brother, to arrive—but take note of what we are redeemed from. Then we may be maggots no more! “I will make of you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and double-edged, to thresh the mountains and crush them, to make the hills like chaff… You shall rejoice in the LORD, and glory in the Holy One of Israel.”

—Fr. John Brown, S.J.

Prayer

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’

Lord, do we really believe that you will help us?  We know that illness, job loss, dismantled dreams, and death will not spare us.  Yet we are not to fear; we are to trust that your help will intervene. Often when we look back over our lives, we do see your intervention.

How incredible that you entered the world warmed by the breath of an animal! And you humbled yourself to surrender to the cross so our fear of death would be no more.  Lord, we will walk in hope today for you are our God and that is all we need.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

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December 13, 2012

For I, the Lord your God,  hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear,  I will help you.’

Do not fear, you worm Jacob,  you insect. Israel! I will help you, says the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. Now, I will make of you a threshing-sledge, sharp, new, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. Then you shall rejoice in the Lord; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive; I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, so that all may see and know, all may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

The Redeemer

In the forty-first chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah, God gives inspiration to drill sergeants everywhere. Our Lord starts off reassuringly “For I am the LORD, your God, who grasps your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.'”

And then He begins the breaking down of Israel, boot camp style: “Fear not, O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel; I will help you, says the Lord; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah gives voice to the notion that Divine purgation is a necessary step to redemption. We must be broken down before we can be built up again.

And in any authentic act of purgation, sadism is out of the question. God is not belittling His people because He is a cruel God; The Holy One of Israel is the redeemer here. In Hebrew, the word for “redeemer” is goel, or one who frees from slavery and avenges suffering. This is Our Lord’s aim: to have our eyes opened to our errors, then to raise us up from maggots to the rightful glorified Children of God that we were made to be.

Hearers of the prophet Isaiah might also remember another time in Scripture when the word goel or “redeemer” was used. It comes from Leviticus where the law is given: “Even after he has thus sold himself into slavery, he still has the right of redemption; he may be redeemed by one of his own brothers . . .”

So this Advent, look for Christ, our brother, to arrive—but take note of what we are redeemed from. Then we may be maggots no more! “I will make of you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and double-edged, to thresh the mountains and crush them, to make the hills like chaff… You shall rejoice in the LORD, and glory in the Holy One of Israel.”

—Fr. John Brown, S.J.

Prayer

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’

Lord, do we really believe that you will help us?  We know that illness, job loss, dismantled dreams, and death will not spare us.  Yet we are not to fear; we are to trust that your help will intervene. Often when we look back over our lives, we do see your intervention.

How incredible that you entered the world warmed by the breath of an animal! And you humbled yourself to surrender to the cross so our fear of death would be no more.  Lord, we will walk in hope today for you are our God and that is all we need.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!