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January 15, 2023
Second Sunday after Epiphany
By Rosa María Rodríguez
Jesus, from his birth, was called by the Lord. “Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.”
This portion of the Word describes the prepartion of Isaiah as a prophet and servant of the Lord. “He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.” The Lord gave to Isaiah extraordinary powers of language as is shown in the great quality of his writings, and without doubt also in his power of speech. Besides, the Lord has protected Isaiah, his servant, “in the shadow of his hand.” These metaphorical descriptions of the attributes of Isaiah like arms of war mean that his testimony of salvation will be for all the coming generations.
The Lord spoke to Isaiah as a representative of Israel: “And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” The Lord, finally, will be glorified by his servant Israel after the descendants of Israel repent of their sins and are gathered together. Isaiah, call as a prophet of Israel, presents himself as a representative of Israel before the Lord, responsible for the sins of the people if he fails in fulfilling his duties.
Isaiah becomes discouraged before the Lord. “But I said, ‘I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the LORD, and my reward with my God.’” In spite of his discouragement over the rebellion of Israel, he knows that the Lord will judge favorably even though he has not had success in bringing Israel to repentance. But, nevertheless, the Lord comforts Isaiah: “And now the LORD says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and my God has become my strength.” Even though Israel will refuse to respond to his pleas, Isaiah is assured of the acceptance of the Lord for his efforts.
The Lord gives Isaiah instructions: “he says, ‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’” The meaning of this last sentence is “to the furthest extent of the earth.” The work of Isaiah to restore Israel is judged by the Lord as too “light” o easy for him; the Lord gives him the additional task of serving as a light to the nations, that is to the Gentiles, who are the peoples of the earth in general. The writings of Isaiah would be a powerful testimony of God and his plan of salvation, as much for the descendants of Israel as for all the rest of the peoples.
The Lord declares that even though Isaiah is not heeded by people, the Lord has chosen him: “Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, ‘Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.’”
The call of Isaiah makes me think about my own call. I believe God has given us a mission in which we are to be his servants. Although at times we may not be successful, God rewards those who serve him and work for his kingdom. Perhaps some times we may be discouraged like the prophet Isaiah, but when we make the effort we must have the conviction and the assurance that the divine protection of the Holy One of Israel who chose us is in those who serve him and he is faithful and fulfills all his promises in the name of Jesus. Amen.
15 enero, 2023
segundo domingo después de la Epifanía
Por la Rvda. Rosa María Rodríguez