The reading today from Isaiah , scholars say, is not the words of Isaiah himself but of an unknown prophet writing centuries later to Jewish exiles in Babylon urging them to return to Jerusalem. The writer hides his identity in Isaiah’s writings lest the Babylonians charge him with treason for suggesting the Jews return.
Many have settled into their new land and culture, however, and have no taste for making the return. The journey’s long and hard, some say.There’s nothing to come back to. Forget Jerusalem; forget the One who called, others say. Our God has let us down, so we’ll sing the songs of this land.
The unknown prophet confronts them with God’s words:
“To whom can you liken me as an equal? says the Holy One.”
God knows every one of you and calls you all by name. Come back where you belong; you can make the journey, the prophet says.
“He gives strength to the fainting;
for the weak he makes vigor abound.
Though young men faint and grow weary,
and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar as with eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.” (Isaiah 40)
Are there exiles like these today, estranged from God and his people, some unaware of the call to come back, some unwilling to consider a return? Why should they return to a city and church in ruins? But is Advent calling them? Does Jesus call them?
Psalms 42 and 43 are prayers of one of these exiles, longing to return and yet wondering if he or she has been abandoned by God. In Advent pray for our exiles.
There’ s a homily here.