Isaiah prophesies on behalf of the prophesied servant, the one who raises up God’s people and is light to not only them, but to all of the world. God’s purpose is that this servant will show God’s glory, so that even pagans in distant land might come to know salvation.
But there’s more to the story.
I don’t know why the fathers chose to only use the third, fifth, and sixth verses of Isaiah 49. I suppose it is to cater to our impatience, but there’s an important lesson between the lines.
Verse 4: Though I thought I had toiled in vain, for nothing and for naught spent my strength, yet my right is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God.
Paul speaks to those of us sanctified in Christ, and called to be holy. We, too, are known before our birth by the one who sees all of time, past, present, and future, as we see a painting or a tapestry. We, too, are called for a purpose.
To be holy, yes.
To be set apart for service to God for others and to others for God, yes.
But also for a unique role, for a unique service, because there is no other person who ever has lived or ever will live our life.
And we, too, sometimes feel that we’ve toiled in vain, for nothing. That we’ve spent our strength and have nothing to show for it. That we are abandoned.
Perhaps we are misunderstood, maligned, or unappreciated.
Or our business crumbles.
Or we work just to pay our debts.
Or our children break our hearts.
Or our spouse betrays us.
Or we hurt ourselves and those we love with our many failings.
But the Lord is faithful, and he has chosen us.
He wants to answer, to help, and to, through us, restore the land and the heritages by the sins of fathers (and mothers… but largely fathers). He wants to say to prisoners come out, and to those who hide, show yourselves.
He wants to put a new song into our mouths.
God wants to pour grace upon us, and peace that only he can give.
Am I willing?
Will I, like Jesus, allow the Holy Spirit to remain upon me?
Will I open my ears to hear him, and obey?
Will I learn to make his will my delight, and allow him to write his law of love upon my heart?
Will I announce his good work in my life before the vast assembly?
Will I come to do his will?
“The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. To those who accepted him, he gave power to become children of God.”
It is not in vain that we labor. There is power to fill up what is lacking in our strength, and more. He has chosen us, and wants to pour that grace and strength upon us.
If we choose to allow him.
- Leadership Lessons in the Luminous Mysteries – Institution of the Eucharist
- Sitting in the Dark vs Walking Through it – Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)