This passage in the 25th chapter of Isaiah, verse 9, is appropriate for the time of the year we are soon to be entering, the Christmas season when we remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Here we encounter part of the prophetic vision of Isaiah concerning the Messiah who had been promised from of old. It is a joyous proclamation of what it will be like when the Lord comes to save his people.
This is an apocalyptic vision of what is to come. Isaiah says, “It will be said on that day, ‘This is the One we have been waiting for. It is he who will bring about our salvation.” For Isaiah, this was still something to be devoutly wished and prayed for. The Lord, the savior had not yet come. But Isaiah is clear as to what that coming will mean. “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast…And he will swallow up…the covering (the veil) that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations…He will swallow up death forever…and will wipe away tears from all faces…the reproach of his people he will take away from the earth.” (verses 6-8)
But Isaiah understood that this coming of the Messiah was something to also be lived for. The attitude of “waiting” here is not to be understood as a passive waiting. There was the matter of living in accord with the Commandments, of taking care of the poor, the widow, and the orphan. One must wait in justice and peace, in order to be not only ready for the arrival of the Messiah, but to be worthy of being saved.
As Christians, we read this passage in a way that Isaiah could only dream about. The long awaited Messiah has come. Jesus, the Son of God, has come and fulfilled all that Isaiah and all the other prophets prophesied over all those centuries. The waiting for the Messiah is over. All that was hoped for has been accomplished in Jesus Christ the Lord. But the truth remains the same for us as it was for the people of Isaiah’s time. We are not freed from our waiting duties either. We await the Last Day, that day when, at the appointed hour known only by the Father, the Lord will come again. On that day we, too, will be able to say, “This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us rejoice in his salvation.” But, like the people of Isaiah’s time, our waiting must not be conceived of as passivity either. While the salvation of the world has indeed been won by Jesus on the cross, we must live our daily lives actively, in humble and joyful imitation of the One who won that salvation for us, Jesus Christ. Though our salvation has been won, we are still sinners. In order to be prepared to be welcomed into the fullness of our salvation, we must recognize and turn away from our sins. We must turn to Jesus for forgiveness when we fail, and be humbly open to the graces that come from the Holy Spirit to aid us in our efforts to live the Christ life every day. We must desire to love God with all of our being, and our neighbors as ourselves—every hour of every day.
Lord, “On that day” when you come again, we hope to be lifted up into your loving arms and to be welcomed into your heavenly kingdom to live with you forever in joy. We know that we are sinners, but we believe in the salvation of your unconditional love and so we turn to you in all humility asking for the graces we need to live in accord with your commands in our daily lives. Help us to be your good and faithful servants here and now. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
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