READ : Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
It is 600 years before the birth of Christ. The worst thing that could happen to a nation has happened to God’s people. Babylon’s overwhelming superiority has defeated the kingdom of Judah. The armies of Nebuchadnezzar have taken Jerusalem, leveling the city, destroying the Temple of Solomon and annihilating everything that was precious to the Jews. As if that wasn’t terrible enough, the Babylonians assembled all the people and marched them across the desert to Babylon. They would be kept there in captivity for seventy years.
Seventy years in what seemed to be utter silence. Had God abandoned his people? And then, out of the broad and lonely silence a voice is heard. It is Isaiah the prophet, God’s mouthpiece: One is being sent to proclaim good news to the oppressed, those broken in heart will be healed, liberty to captives, and release to the prisoners. A garland to replace the ashes of lament and grief, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise replaces a faint spirit. God has not abandoned them nor forgotten them, they were coming home! But home is not what it was. The city is broken, the temple is laid waste, the nation is brokenhearted and afflicted. The prophet announces that everything is about to be reversed. Good News! This is the Truth whose incarnation we celebrate.
Thank you, O God, that in Jesus Christ you will never leave us nor forsake us. Hallelujah! Amen.