Today’s first reading is one of my favorite chapters of the Old Testament: Isaiah 55. Starting in Isaiah 40, the prophet begins to describe the end of the Exile period and the triumphant return of the People of God to Jerusalem. Isaiah 55 provides a fitting conclusion by affirming the effectiveness of the prophetic word. It is the crowning validation of the reliability of prophecy and the power of the God of Israel. The 13 verses of this chapter offer some of the most recognizable passages showing up in the New Testament, liturgy and prayer of the Church. Rather than provide a commentary, let me leave you with the Word of God that you might ponder a part of the verses here on this first Tuesday of the Season of Lent.
1 All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! 2 Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. 3Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David. 4 As I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of nations, 5 So shall you summon a nation you knew not, and nations that knew you not shall run to you, Because of the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.
6 Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near. 7 Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked man his thoughts; Let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. 9 As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.
10 For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down And do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, Giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, 11 So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.
12 Yes, in joy you shall depart, in peace you shall be brought back; Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you, and all the trees of the countryside shall clap their hands.
13 In place of the thornbush, the cypress shall grow, instead of nettles, the myrtle. This shall be to the LORD’S renown, an everlasting imperishable sign.
Isaiah 55:1–13 (NAB)