Like yesterday, the prophet Isaiah (40:1-11) provides another hopeful message to the Chosen People. After a time of trial Israel’s guilt is expiated. God, in all of His power, will manifest Himself, yet gently lead them as a shepherd. Certainly this pastoral image evokes to the Christian reader Jesus who has is often thought of as the Good Shepherd as conveyed particularly in John’s Gospel. He comes in power and glory but as a humble shepherd guiding the people on the straight path of righteousness.
But it is the headline of this post on which I wish to focus. From the beginning of that same Gospel of John we know that Jesus is the Word of God from all time. This Word is living and active throughout time and eternity. In fact, St. Peter, who spent three years with the Word Incarnate saw fit to reiterate this verse from Isaiah in the first part of his first letter (1 Pt 1:24-25). No trial of the patriarchs or the Israelites ever toppled the Word. No Jewish leaders or Romans ever ultimately defeated the Word. No atheistic or heretical regime ever stamped out the Word. No earthly force or hellish power will ever conquer the Word.
Remember the end of The Book, Revelation, which says:
Then I saw standing in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and the elders a Lamb that seemed to have been slain. (Rev 5:6)
The Ghent altarpiece: Adoration of the Lamb (Jan van Eyck 1390 – 1441)
Here we have our shepherd imagery, with the Lamb of God, the Word of God, not defeated by death but resurrected and glorious, erect on a throne, triumphant.
So shouldn’t we get to know this Word better? We get to know the Word by reading the Word. “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ,” St. Jerome famously said. Let this Advent season begin or renew a lifelong reading plan of the Bible.