Even In The Midst Of Pain, We Rejoice For We Know The Love Of God!

There is in this passage both a recognition of a fact and of a promise to inspire our hope. The people of Israel have suffered greatly. They have been attacked, conquered and exiled, but in this passage toward the end of this most important prophetic book in the Old Testament, Isaiah is getting the people of Israel to look back and see that God had never abandoned them. Though they had turned from God in countless ways and had suffered dearly because of their infidelity, God remained faithful to them and he has brought them out of their captivity.

We, too, are challenged to see that the love and mercy of God, which redeemed the people of Israel in Isaiah’s time, remains true for us today. Unlike the people of Isaiah’s time, we have seen the love and mercy of God in the flesh. God has been present to his creation through his Holy Spirit from the moment that He spoke it into being. Isaiah tells us in the first part of verse 9 of chapter 63 that, “… the angel of his presence saved them all the days of old.” But because of God’s great love and mercy, we Christians we are able to say that we have seen God in the face, in Jesus Christ, the Lord. We have seen the love and the mercy of God in the flesh. God came among us and was present to us in the flesh, to show us that his love is not just for a people, or for human beings in general, but for each and every one of his children, personally.

In this passage, Isaiah gets the people of Israel to reflect on how God has “lifted them up and carried them” out of their Babylonian captivity, just as he had been doing from “the days of old.” While they could understand that in terms of their recent past, their release from Babylon and their return to Israel, we have come to know it in the physically present person of Jesus. Jesus made God’s love and mercy tangible to us. The God of creation, the Lord and Master of the universe, entered into our humanity in Jesus. He has spoken to us with a human voice, not from the mystery of a great cloud. He has touched us with human hands, healing the sick, raising the dead. He has looked at us with human eyes and shown his love for us through those eyes. He has heard our fears, our doubts, our cries for mercy with human ears. He has known the depths of our suffering in his own humanity, and from the very depth of his being, he has wept for us personally.

When Jesus was lifted up on the cross, he bore us up with him. He “lifted up” the weight of all of our sins upon his human flesh. His physical, psychological and spiritual suffering in his humanity was endured for our salvation. We know his love and his mercy in a way that the people of Isaiah’s time could only hope for. Our hope is rooted not only in our faith, but in the fact that we have seen the love of God in its fullness. The fidelity of God is not only known to us as Christians as a matter of our faith, but as a personally experienced reality. While the “angel of his presence” was always with the people of Israel, we have come to know the Real Presence of God in the flesh. He is present to us in our prayers, but even more intimately in the Eucharist. He is still lifting us up and carrying us, but he is doing so now in the reality of a personal relationship with each and every one of us. As Christians, we are now called to make that presence of Jesus available to others in our loving, merciful, and compassionate service to all of our brothers and sisters. As Christians we know that it is now our calling to help others come to know Jesus through our own loving and merciful words and deeds done in the Holy Spirit. We are to be the instruments of his love and his presence in the world today.

God, help us to grow in our personal relationship with you. We know that you are always with us, but sometimes we lose sight of that truth because we are temporarily blinded by our own suffering and doubts. Help us to feel your comforting presence in our daily lives, and strengthen us to be your instruments of love and mercy in this suffering world. We thank you with humble hearts for the love and mercy you have shown us by becoming personally present to us in Jesus. In our thanksgiving we desire also to be your good and faithful sons and daughters here and now. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.
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