Most Isaiah experts believe that Chapters 34 and 35 were composed long after First Isaiah’s eighth-century B.C.E. ministry. They probably took shape more than 200 years later, after the Babylonian Exile. Those who had returned from that mid-sixth-century deportation quickly discovered they had a row to hoe. Most had to start from scratch. Jerusalem was in ruins, fields hadn’t been cultivated for several generations, and the returnees constantly had to deal with the gnawing feeling that “we should have stayed in Babylon.” (Taken from Celebration, Fr. Roger Karban)
In the midst of all of this comes today’s passage from Isaiah.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
These words are spoken to all who long for peace – world or domestic, for justice – global or personal, for life – the kind that rises out of loss and defeat. It is a world hoped for but not yet realized.
In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist is in prison wondering whether Jesus is the one who is to come or should he look for someone else. Jesus doesn’t say, “I’m the one all right.” Rather, he points to signs:
“Go tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”
The Scriptures give us words of hope and challenges us to be signs of what we hope for. What are the signs we can point to that give hope to others. Perhaps it is presents provided for children who might otherwise have none. Maybe it is food provided for people who would otherwise go hungry.
Recently Pope Francis presented an apostolic exhortation titled Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). It is an exhortation that presents the Gospel as a source of joy for all. The Pope also challenges us to be that source of joy for others. In today’s bulletin and in coming bulletins you will find the “Pope’s Corner” that will give you some idea of what is contained in Pope Francis exhortation to us. Be sure to take a look at this corner and reflect on what the Pope is saying to us.
Don’t forget our penance service Monday night (December 16th), beginning at 7:00 p.m. Our Lady of Presentation is having their Penance Service Sunday night (December 15th), also beginning at 7:00 p.m.