A SIGN FOR THE NATIONS
“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall arise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be honor (ἡ ἀνάπαυσις αὐτοῦ τιμή). And it shall be in that day, that the Lord shall again show his hand, to be zealous for the remnant that is left of the people, which shall be left by the Assyrians, and that from Egypt, and from the country of Babylon, and from Ethiopia, and from the Elamites, and from the rising of the sun, and out of Arabia. And he shall lift up a sign (σημεῖον) for the nations, and he shall gather the lost ones of Israel, and he shall gather the dispersed of Juda from the four corners of the earth.” (Is 11: 10-12, Septuagint-translation)
As this third week of Lent leads us to the upcoming Sunday of the Cross, today’s reading from the Prophet Isaiah points us to that inspiring mystery, the unifying “sign” of Christ’s cross. Isaiah is talking about our Lord Jesus Christ, a descendent of Jesse (King David’s father), Who was to gather all of us into a new Sabbath or a new “rest” (ἀνάπαυσις) from our merely-human fears and concerns, – not only on Saturdays, but every day, – through the “honorable” way of the cross. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,” Jesus invites us, “for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest (ἀνάπαυσιν) for your souls.” (Mt 11: 29)
Let me choose faith over fear today, and walk through my responsibilities and challenges, rather than avoid them, in the dignifying, life-giving Spirit of the cross. Let me let myself be gathered into God’s One-ness, together with other cross-carriers, embracing the Spirit of meekness and humility as I approach this day. Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.