Fr. David's Lent Reflections
Here we come to the 39th day of our Lenten journey, God bless you as you travel the path to the Cross and to our Lord’s resurrection. Our reading from scripture is Isaiah 65:8-16
Thus saith the Lord, As a grape-stone shall be found in the cluster, and they shall say, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for the sake of him that serves me, for his sake I will not destroy them all. 9 And I will lead forth the seed that came of Jacob and of Juda, and they shall inherit my holy mountain: and mine elect and my servants shall inherit it, and shall dwell there. 10 And there shall be in the forest folds of flocks, and the valley of Achor shall be for a resting-place of herds for my people, who have sought me.
11 But ye are they that have left me, and forget my holy mountain, and prepare a table for the devil, and fill up the drink-offering to Fortune. 12 I will deliver you up to the sword, ye shall all fall by slaughter: for I called you, and ye hearkened not; I spoke, and ye refused to hear; and ye did evil in my sight, and chose the things wherein I delighted not. 13 Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall hunger: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall thirst: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed: 14 behold, my servants shall exult with joy, but ye shall cry for the sorrow of your heart, and shall howl for the vexation of your spirit. 15 For ye shall leave your name for a loathing to my chosen, and the Lord shall destroy you: but my servants shall be called by a new name, 16 which shall be blessed on the earth; for they shall bless the true God: and they that swear upon the earth shall swear by the true God; for they shall forget the former affliction, and it shall not come into their mind.
The translation of the first part of this reading is much different here than in protestant Bibles. The Hebrew (that’s the text used by Protestant Bibles) makes it sound like you save grapes because you can make wine from them - what is the point of saying that? But the Greek says that, when you find a seed in a grape, you count yourself blessed because you can plant it and have more grapes. The prophet uses this illustration to make the point that God does not destroy everyone because of the sins of the wicked, but preserves a remnant, a small part, that will grow and re-establish His people.
And what will this seed produce? As Isaiah says: “And I will lead forth the seed that came of Jacob and of Juda, and they shall inherit my holy mountain: and mine elect and my servants shall inherit it, and shall dwell there.” So does the word “seed” simply refer to the children and physical offspring of Abraham? It is said that they will inherit the holy mountain (“holy mountain” often refers to the Church). Who will inherit the holy mountain? “Mine elect and my servants shall inherit it.” That is, those who serve God will become the seed of Abraham, and will inherit all that he has gathered to himself.
We, brothers and sisters, are the new Israel, who have inherited the good things of Abraham, that is, faith in God. We leave behind our former affliction, as Isaiah said, and become a new race of those who have given themselves to God. We forsake unbelief, and as we come to the end of this lenten journey, and embrace the salvation that comes to us via the cross and resurrection of our Lord.