The 2nd Week of Advent
In Chapter 6 of the Book of Isaiah, his call is recounted and we hear his fear and reluctance: “Woe is me, I am doomed. For I am a man of unclean lips yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Lords.” Isaiah accepts his vocation yet there is a strong sense of foreboding; he will be out of control for he will be given over to be God’s voice. And this voice, as we know, from the prophecies foretold doom and punishment both to the pagan nations and to Israel.
This morning at Vigils we heard in Isaiah 30: “Woe to the rebellious children says the Lord, who carry out plans that are not mine, who weave webs that are not inspired by me – adding sin upon sin.”
And so it must have been a breath of fresh air, a welcome relief for the Prophet to speak in God’s name the reading we just heard in this Mass (Is 41: 13 – 20). Ten times in the course of the passage he is able to proclaim God’s love and mercy – the God who grasps Israel with His right hand – who says, “Fear not – I will help you, will answer you, I will not forsake you – your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”
In that word “Redeemer” there is a very profound revelation of God’s love; your Redeemer – Hebrew the word is GOEL – it means one who avenges a crime – the one who is the nearest kinsman. God speaks to Israel and to us, “I am your nearest kinsman because I am truly, faithfully, eternally related to you as the source of life. I am totally given to you!”
In time Jesus will reveal more of the depth and meaning of this special relationship; in becoming man, in taking on our ﬂesh – the ﬁrst born of many brothers and sisters – He is our GOEL, our nearest relative, the Son of God and the Son of Mary.
When Mary visited Elizabeth, Elizabeth was moved to ask, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” We can take that question and reword it: “Who am I that my Lord, my God should be my kinsman, my nearest relative – more close to me than anyone else?”