Who Truly Knows The Mind of God?
Reflecting on the Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost: Three Days after Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 76
Old Testament: Isaiah 66:14-24
Gospel: Matthew 23:37—24:14
Psalter: Psalm 141
Old Testament: Ezekiel 43:1-12
Gospel: Matthew 23:37—24:14
God, our God, you hear our cry and listen to our prayer. Grant that we may know that our redeemer lives and, trusting in you, be confident that we will not be lost or forgotten. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
…for I know their works and their thoughts.
I am coming to gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. From them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, and Lud, to Meshech, Tubal, and Javan, to the coastlands far away that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory, and they shall declare my glory among the nations. They shall bring all your kindred from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and on mules, and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring a grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. And I will also take some of them as priests and as Levites, says the Lord (Isaiah 66:18-21).
When this passage from Isaiah was written, Jerusalem stood as shell of its former glory. Completely leveled by the Babylonians nearly a century before, the people struggled to rebuild the God's Temple and his City. But, even those who returned from Babylon tired of the effort. Morale was low and the city remained only half built. To the citizens of Jerusalem, God must have seemed very distant indeed.
These passages shook the people from there despair. Jerusalem's glory would return because the city stood as a sign of God's glory. [66:18] Visitors from all over, both the poor and the wealthy, would come to seek and worship God; their offering would be like the faithful in Jerusalem. [66:20] God would even designate the foreigners as priests, for the foreigners would be a priestly people, just as the Israelites. [66:21] The foreigners would proclaim God's glory to the ends of the earth, for they, too were part of God's plan. [66:19] God would be close to his people and to all who trusted in his providence.
Sometimes our faith is challenged because God does not act according to our expectations, our specifications, or our timetable. At these times, God may seem very distant. But, God works in strange and surprising ways. When he does act, God does not ask us to merely acknowledge his existence. He wants us to trust in his plan for us. He wants us to grow in faith.
How has God surprised you this week? How have his blessings challenged you to faith?
PRAYER: O God, in Christ you give us hope for a new heaven and a new earth. Grant us wisdom to interpret the signs of our times, courage to stand in the time of trial, and faith to witness to your truth and love. Amen.
More from “Word-Sunday” can be found here.