This part of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah is called the book of consolation because the message that it presents is a message of hope for the future. The events of this part of their history were brought about by the conquering new King of Babylon, Cyrus, and it ushered in a new-found freedom for the people as they would return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple there.
The book of consolation is filled with hopeful images and signs of God’s care for his people. This was a time of great opportunity and growth for the people, a time of wonderful promise for them as they continued to trust lovingly in God.
It is significant that this reading comes near the middle of our season of Advent, a time built around promise and fulfillment of God’s promise to take care for his people in their great need.
The four weeks of Advent recapitulate the long awaited fulfillment of the promise that God would send the Messiah to be a source of salvation and reconciliation for the people of Israel. The Messiah whom we Christians identify with Jesus gave himself over in obedience to his Father, the same one who fulfilled the promises he made to the chosen people of the Old Testament.
We are indeed blessed and privileged to be the recipients of God’s favor for us in the person of Jesus whose life, death and resurrection is the ultimate personal source of God’s blessings towards us. That salvation and reconciliation is already our gift from God, but it is continually being worked out in our lives (individually and corporately). We, as the risen Body of Christ in our world today are all beneficiaries of God’s goodness in Jesus
As we await our being finally and fully loved and reconciled with God, we pray with especial gratitude to God who promises and fulfills those promises to us. Let us dedicate ourselves in this season of Advent to those promises as we experience their fulfillment in our lives and the lives of our neighbors.
We might ask ourselves how we are freed from the exiles that invade our lives as the Babylonian captivity invaded our ancestors’ lives. And, as we work out our response to God in our own time, we turn to God who continues to fulfill his promises toward us.
Our reading today helps us to focus properly on the God who saves us and invites us to express our gratitude not just with our words but with our actions for others, particularly those who need it most around us.
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