The Book of the Prophet Isaiah is a theological interpretation of some of the most extraordinary events that occurred in the history of Israel.
The visionary insights of the prophet span centuries of Israel’s history and seek to make sense of great cataclysmic events, events that culminate in the end of the royal house of David, the end of what had once been a mighty kingdom, the destruction of the temple, the city of Jerusalem and the exile of the people from their homeland.
This is the context through which we can understand the words of the prophet Isaiah this morning. The promise of restoration, a restoration which is a gift from the Lord God, is very concrete. It is not about feelings or psychology. It is a promise that the Lord will give back to Israel what they had lost- king, kingdom, temple, city and a home.
How will this be accomplished? When will this be accomplished?
The prophet does not foresee precisely. But he trusts that the Lord will effect the restoration of Israel. He has not forgotten the people he has chosen. Everything that has been lost, will one day be returned.
As Christians, we believe that the restoration that the prophet Isaiah foresaw is accomplished in Christ the Lord.
Christ comes to Israel and the world, not as simply a prophet or spiritual teacher, but as the God of Israel who has come into this world to be the Messiah, to be the king, who accomplishes what not prophet of teacher could accomplish- he restores everything that had been lost.
This is what Christ is speaking about in his Gospel- who he is. He is God who has come into the world, come to his people. And why has he come? The restoration of Israel and the world.
This restoration turned out to be something that Israel had not expected. It wasn’t about getting back the wealth and power and grandeur of the kingdom they had lost centuries ago. This is what the Israelites wanted, but it wasn’t the restoration that God wanted. He brought to them the restoration of a relationship. He offered them communion with his divine life.
It is this holy communion that we receive in the Church’s Sacraments. The sacraments are not just time honored customs or examples of culture. The Sacraments are a relationship with God through which he offers us a share in his divine life.
God in his Sacraments becomes one with us, and we become one with him.
This is how God in Christ restores us.
The spiritual life of a disciple is about participation in God’s own life through the Sacraments of the Church. Through this participation we receive Christ and are received by Christ.
And this is what will happen in this very Mass.
In the Mass and through this Blessed Sacrament, what Israel longed for and the prophets foresaw is offered to us. God in Christ gives to us the restoration he promised, and this restoration is for us to share in the gift of his own divine life.