Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her— that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom. For thus says the Lord: I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees.
As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bodies shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies.
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.
The first reading from Isaiah 66 is characterized by many feminine images. Referring to God and Jerusalem and the people are envisioned as a mother giving birth and nursing her children. These poetic images of hope were important for a people returning from sixty years of exile in Babylon. What does this say to you today?
God in Third Isaiah is a woman, a mother. Does that touch your heart? Does it help you meet God in your daily experience? The message of Isaiah is that of comfort and consolation—gifts, St. Ignatius says, God gives to us, gifts we should look for in our prayer.
This is the Fourth of July weekend. Can anything Third Isaiah says help us as a nation this Fourth of July? The image of God’s warm, motherly love might take us back to Abraham Lincoln’s post-Civil War hope that we find and embrace “our better angels.” That hope of Lincoln’s and those angels can work now in the practical ways we listen to each other, discuss and differ with each other, but at the same time come to respect each other. When he addressed the United States Congress, Pope Francis gave us another image that fits here—that of the “common good.” Our good for all of us is not for one part or group because we are all part of one another.
Lord, let my faith be full and unreserved, and let it penetrate my thought, my way of judging divine things and human things. Lord, let my faith be humble and not presume to be based on the experience of my thought and of my feeling; but let it surrender to the testimony of the Holy Spirit.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team