A scholarly attempt at an interpretation of Sunday's liturgical readings.

Do you see what I see?

Many of us dream quite frequently.  The dreams are filled with symbolic imagery about which we know very little.  Yet the experts tell us that the dreams are very much a part of who we are.  We must figure out what the symbols mean.  In the Bible we often see the dream as a form of divine revelation, for example the Magi are told in a dream not to return to Herod,  Joseph is told to come to and then leave Egypt (Matt. 1:12; 2:13, 19).

In the first reading for the fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8), Isaiah has a vision.  The vision could well have been a dream and thus most likely revelatory.  What was Isaiah’s vision?  He saw God sitting on a throne surrounded by Seraphim (guardians of the throne).  The Seraphim exclaim loudly “Holy, Holy, Holy….”  The designation of holiness indicates a sense of “otherness.”  That is, that God is special.

Soon after, follows a small earthquake and an indication that the Lord has a mission to be completed.  “Whom shall I send?” asks the Lord.  “Here I am.  Send me.”  So replies Isaiah.  After a little shaking up and the divine  request for a messenger, Isaiah will go and preach the Lord’s message to others.  The word “prophet” means “to speak for another.”

For us, I think the significance in this reading is clear.  Three items come to mind.  First, the need to determine where it is that we “see” God; either in church, in the marginalized, in another person, or somewhere else.  It is only when we “see” God that we can recognize his presence and act.

Secondly, it  is important to note the specialness of God.  He being “something other” indicates a certain trust of his concern for us.  This means confidence in his support of and presence with us.  The belief that “with God all things are possible” suggests a strong motivation for our ministry of service.

Thirdly, accept the challenge to be God’s messenger to others.  As Isaiah needed a little “shaking up” to see what was at stake, so we can expect a little shaking up.  The message of God is one of justice, compassion, forgiveness, and understanding in our ministry to others.  We should frequently keep in mind  the final part of Isaiah’s vision as applicable to us.  The Lord, contemplating the mission, asked,  “Who will go for us.”  Isaiah’s response should be ours.  “Here I am.  Send me.”

Photo of the Book of Isaiah page of the Bible ...

Photo of the Book of Isaiah page of the Bible (cropped version) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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