Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Message: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11

Welcome back to another edition of Sunday's Message.  When I did this series last year, I showed all the readings for that particular Sunday.  However, this year I have decided to focus on just one reading each week.  I would like to pick out the one that really strikes me, particularly in light of The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition translation, which often arouses some spirited debate on this blog.  (I hope it continues to do so!)   On my part, along with providing a particular reading each week, I plan to offer some personal reflections, as well as the occasional question or two for you to ponder. 

There are a two options for the first reading for the Baptism of the Lord, both coming from Isaiah. I chose the selection from Isaiah 40.  I have always taken great consolation in the opening lines of Isaiah 40, often refered to as the beginning of second-Isaiah or the Book of Consolation.  The previous 39 chapters, though containing the majestic vision of God enthroned in heaven as well as the promise of the Emmanuel prophecies, reflects the dire situation in Israel and Judah during those centuries leading to the Babylonian Exile.  We see this with the prophet's continual call to repentence and covenant renewal which occupy many of the oracles found in the first 39 chapters. 

Yet, there is a change once we begin chapter 40.  Some suggest that this portion of Isaiah was composed during the exile, decades after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.  It was a time when comfort was needed, which is exactly what God was prepared to offer to His people.  It is a reminder, at least to me, that God never gives up on us.  God is with us (Emmanuel), even when we choose to ignore his approaches and calls to return to Him.  He is particularly with us in times of difficulty and hardship.  Sometimes when life is difficult, it becomes increasingly hard to rely and look upon God.  I know that I have a tendancy to look in on myself, instead of taking my burdens and difficulties to the Lord.  This passage always reminds me that our God is a God of comfort and restoration.  He is the one who will care for me and gather me into his arms.  Sometimes all I simply need to do is "Look" not at myself, but at "Your God!"

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
“Comfort, oh comfort my people,”
says your God.
“Speak softly and tenderly to Jerusalem,
but also make it very clear
That she has served her sentence,
that her sin is taken care of—forgiven!
She’s been punished enough and more than enough,
and now it’s over and done with.”
Thunder in the desert!
“Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road straight and smooth,
a highway fit for our God.
Fill in the valleys,
level off the hills,
Smooth out the ruts,
clear out the rocks.
Then God’s bright glory will shine
and everyone will see it.
Yes. Just as God has said.”
Climb a high mountain, Zion.
You’re the preacher of good news.
Raise your voice. Make it good and loud, Jerusalem.
You’re the preacher of good news.
Speak loud and clear. Don’t be timid!
Tell the cities of Judah,
“Look! Your God!”
Look at him! God, the Master, comes in power,
ready to go into action.
He is going to pay back his enemies
and reward those who have loved him.
Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them,
leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.


rolf said...

I am not usually a fan of the Message translation, but this reading was ok. It didn't have any of the slang (street talk) that it often uses to try to make the passage relevant to today's readers. I think there are better alternatives out there for dynamic translations; the Jerusalem Bible, CCB, GNT and The Catholic Living Bible (paraphrase). All these alternatives are approved Catholic versions.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Tim for you and your family.May you all know God 's richest blessings.
Thanks for the reminder that our God is a God of comfort and restoration.

David Garcia said...

Honestly And respectfully I think people need to stop lumping the Jerusalem bible in with the message, the living bible, etc... It is VASTLY superior and more accurate and I would even go so far as to say that as an all purpose bible the JB (1966) may be the best. Great poetic language, accurate, and still fresh 50 years later. Read some of Pauls letter in the JB to see what i mean. I just think we do it a disservice to lump it in with these other translations.

Timothy said...


I agree with you. I would add the NJB to that as well.

David Garcia said...

Yes the njb as well! You know how I feel about the 1966 JB... I get very protective! Lol!!

rolf said...

David, David, David... I was no way insinuating that the JB and the other translations I mentioned were anything like the Message. My point is that there are these other readable Catholic translations out there (including a Catholic version paraphrase) that imho are not only more accurate, but are less grating on the ears! I agree with you about the JB, that is why I carry my compact version with me when I am on the go!