Anointed by God [Isaiah 61:1-2a,10-11]

Submitted by frlarry on

In the reading from Isaiah, chapter 61, we find a prophesy of salvation after a period of immense travail. Using language that hearkens to the jubilee year, declared in Leviticus, chapter 25, Isaiah tells us,

    The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
    because the LORD has anointed me;
    he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
    to heal the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and release to the prisoners,
    to announce a year of favor from the LORD
    and a day of vindication by our God.

It speaks of original justice restored, of forgiveness and reconciliation, of renewal and hope. In the final couplet, he speaks of joy.

    I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
    in my God is the joy of my soul;
    for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
    and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
    like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
    like a bride bedecked with her jewels.

This imagery recalls the words of Psalm 45, the psalm of Messianic triumph,

    Listen, O daughter, give ear to my words:
    forget your own people and your father's house.
    So will the king desire your beauty;
    he is your lord, pay homage to him.

    And the people of Tyre shall come with gifts,
    the richest of the peoples shall seek your favor.
    The daughter of the king is clothed with splendor,
    her robes embroidered with pearls set in gold.

    She is led to the king with her maiden companions.
    They are escorted amid gladness and joy;
    they pass within the palace of the king.

The bride in both instances has come to represent the people of God, with the Son of God as the king-bridegroom. Escorted by the angels, we will one day pass within the heavenly palace of the Most High. The joy we will experience will surpass the joy of any earthly bride, for we will not be united with mere mortal flesh, but with God, whose love and care for his people far surpasses the love and concern of any bridegroom for his bride.

    As the earth brings forth its plants,
    and a garden makes its growth spring up,
    so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise
    spring up before all the nations.

The prophet here evokes a poetic sense of the inevitability of God's final justice. It recalls the words from Isaiah 55:11,

    So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth;
    It shall not return to me void,
    but shall do my will,
    achieving the end for which I sent it.

As St. Augustine noted, God does not will evil, he wills that evil will not become the worst. Even more so, God wills ultimate good, and his will cannot be thwarted, though it may seem for a time to be delayed.


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