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To: All

From: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11

Prologue: Promise of Deliverance

[1] Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
[2] Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
[3] A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
[4] Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
[5] And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

[9] Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
[10] Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
[11] He will feed his flock like a shepherd,
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.


40:1-55:13. These chapters make up the second part of the book of Isaiah, also
known as “Second Isaiah” or “Deutero-Isaiah”. Almost everything here refers to a
period of history one or two centuries later than that of “First Isaiah”. The oppres-
sor is no longer Assyria but Babylon, which conquered Jerusalem in 587-586 BC,
and then began a series of deportations that sent the upper classes of Jerusalem
and Judah into exile. Many years later (539 BC), Cyrus, king of the Persians,
conquered the Babylonians and issued a decree allowing those deportees who
so wished to return home. These events are echoed in Second Isaiah’s oracles,
songs, lamentations and denunciations, and the prophetic visions of the final, en-
during deliverance and restoration of the chosen people and the city of Zion.

The various literary units in this part of the book are grouped into two Is 52:7-11
sections more or less by subject. The first (40:1-48:22) implies that the Jews are
still held against their will in Babylon. Their deliverance is announced, thanks to
the power of the Lord, who rules the world and determines the course of human
affairs; he has chosen Cyrus, king of Persia, called here his “anointed”, his mes-
siah, to redeem Israel from exile (44:24-45:25).

This section, too, contains the announcement that God will choose a “servant”,
whom he will send empowered by the Spirit to establish law and justice (42:1-9,
the first “song of the Servant”).

The second section celebrates the glorious restoration of the people of God on
Zion; in this, too, the “Servant of the Lord” will play the key role; the section con-
tains the last three “songs of the Servant” (49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12).

40:1-48:22. The historical background to these chapters is the time immediately
after the return of the exiles from Babylon, which is depicted as a “new exodus”.
The exodus from Egypt was the prototype of all God’s interventions on his peo-
ple’s behalf: now we hear of another one, “new” because the power with which
God, the Creator of all things, acts now surpasses that to be seen in the exo-
dus. The news that deliverance is at hand greatly consoles the people: we are
told this at the start, and it is repeated in the oracles that follow. For this reason,
this part of the book of Isaiah is usually called the “Book of Consolation”, and it
has been interpreted as an anticipation of the consolation that Christ will bring:
“The true consolation, balm and release from all human ills is the Incarnation of
our God and Saviour” (Theodoret of Cyrus, “Commentaria In Isaiam”, 40, 3).

The section opens with a song of joy over the imminent release of the exiles
(40:1-11). After this a number of oracles are grouped together which describe the
reason why the people should hope in the Lord who is mighty and desires to save,
who is ready to do so (42:1-25), to manifest himself as the Redeemer of Israel (43:
1-44:23) and bring salvation to Jerusalem (44:24-48:19). The section ends with a
prophecy of the redemption of his people and a call to leave Babylon (48:20-22).

40:1-11. The section begins on a formal note with an anonymous voice proclai-
ming the Lord’s consolation (vv 1-5) The same voice calls on the prophet himself
to proclaim that the word of God and his message of salvation will endure forever
(vv. 6-11). The oracles are addressed to those people of Jerusalem who have been
deported to Babylon. When they were first spoken, many decades had passed
since these people and the previous generation were forced to leave the holy city.

Those years of suffering and exile have more than atoned for their sins. The time
comes for them, with the Lord’s help, to set out on the return journey. That jour-
ney is mentioned throughout this section. The voice speaking in the name of the
Lord boosts their morale: it won’t be a difficult journey; they will find a way opened
up for them which will bring them to the glory of the Lord. As in the exodus from
Egypt, on the “way” from Babylon to Jerusalem they will see wonderful evidence
of the power of God.

The words spoken by the mysterious voice, inviting them to set out, fills the retur-
nees with hope. The four Gospels see these words fulfilled in the ministry of John
the Baptist, who is the voice crying in the wilderness “Prepare the way of the
Lord” (cf. v. 3). And, indeed, John, with his call to personal conversion and his
baptism of repentance, does prepare the way for people to find Jesus (cf. Mt 3:3;
Mk 1:3; Lk 3:4; Jn 1:23), whom the Gospels confess to be “the Lord” (cf. v. 3).
John the Baptist is his herald, the “precursor”: “The voice commands that a way
be opened for the Word of God, the path smoothed and all obstacles removed:
when our God comes, he will be able to walk without hindrance. Prepare the way
of the Lord: this means to preach the gospel and to offer consolation to his people,
with the desire that the salvation of God embrace all mankind” (Eusebius of Cae-
sarea, “Commentana In Isaiam”, 40, 366). Hence, in Christian tradition, “John
the Baptist is ‘more than a prophet’ (Lk 7:26). In him, the Holy Spirit concludes
his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun
by Elijah (cf. Mt 11: 13-14). He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Is-
rael; he is the ‘voice’ of the Consoler who is coming (Jn 1:23; cf. Is 40:1-3)” (”Ca-
techism of the Catholic Church”, 719).

In the second part of the oracle, the anonymous voice asks the prophet to speak
in the name of the Lord (vv. 6-8). Merely human plans can only go so far; but the
word of God stands forever. In the things that the voice says there must be an al-
lusion to the might of Babylon, which withers like the flower of the field when the
“breath of the Lord blows upon it”, because it challenged the goodness of God.
The message to be given to the people speaks of trusting in the power of God,
who comes not to lay waste but to protect and recompense those in his care (vv.
9-11). Here we find for the first time the simile of the “flock” being applied to the
people of God, one of a number of figures of speech used in Holy Scripture to de-
scribe God’s tender care of his people (cf. Jer 23:3; Ezek 34:1ff; Ps 23:4) and
which Christian tradition uses to explain the mystery of the Church: “The Church
is a sheepfold whose one and indispensable door is Christ (Jn 10:1-10). It is a
flock of which God himself foretold he would be the shepherd (Is 40:11; Ezek 34:
11-31), and whose sheep, although ruled by human shepherds, are nevertheless
continuously led and nourished by Christ himself, the Good Shepherd and the
Prince of the shepherds (cf. Jn 10:11; 1 Pet 5:4), who gave his life for the sheep
(cf. Jn 10:11-15)” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 6).

The words of vv. 6-8 will later be used in the First Letter of St Peter to confirm
the validity of the precept of brotherly love (1 Pet 1:24-25).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

3 posted on 12/03/2011 7:52:21 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: 2 Peter 3:8-14

True Teaching

[8] But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a
thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. [9] The Lord is not slow a-
bout his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wi-
shing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. [10] But the
day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away

with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and
the works that are upon it will be burned up.

Moral Lessons to be Drawn

[11] Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought
you to be in lives of holiness and godliness awaiting for and hastening the co-
ming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dis-
solved, and the elements will melt with fire! [13] But according to his promise
we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

[14] Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him
without spot or blemish, and at peace.


8. This passage from v. 4 of Psalm 90 was often cited by Jewish rabbis in their
calculations about how long the messianic times would last and when the end
of the world would be; later on, millenarists would use it as a basis for their far-
fetched theories about Christ and his saints bearing temporal rule for a thousand
years over an earthly kingdom prior to the End. The author of the letter cites the
psalm as an authority for the view that time is a function of Creation and has no
connection with the eternity of God: the fact that the Parousia has not happened
is no reason to deny that it will happen.

9-10. In this passage we are reminded that God, in his great mercy, does not
seek our condemnation but, rather, wants all men to be saved (cf. 1 Tim 2:4;
Rom 11:22) and shows wonderful patience towards them. The fact that the Pa-
rousia has not yet come about is quite compatible with the certainty that it will
happen, and happen all of a sudden; therefore, far from being an excuse for ma-
king Christian life less demanding, the Parousia is a spur to stay vigilant (the
Master himself used the simile of the thief: cf. Mt 24:43 44; Lk 12:39). “Since
we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord
and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is com-
pleted (cf. Heb 9:27), we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and
be numbered among the blessed (cf. Mt 25:31-46) and not, like the wicked and
slothful servants (cf. Mt 25: 26), be ordered to depart into the eternal fire (cf. Mt
25:41)” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 48).

“The earth and the works that are upon it”: there are so many variants in the
Greek manuscripts that it is almost impossible to reconstruct the original text:
but they all convey the idea that the earth will be affected by this universal ca-

11-16. The writer now follows up these considerations with a moral exhortation,
based on the conviction that the old world will disappear (v. 12) producing new
heavens and a new earth (v. 13), and that men living in the period prior to this
cataclysm will not know when it is going to happen (v. 15).

All this should not make Christians afraid; in fact, it should bolster their hope
(vv.12-14). God will keep his promise to grant heaven to those who persevere in
good; but this hope of future reward should not lead one to neglect temporal af-
fairs: “Far from diminishing our concern to develop the earth, the expectancy
of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human fa-
mily grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come” (Vatican II,
“Gaudium Et Spes”, 39).

Hope opens the way to upright conduct (v. 11) of an even higher standard (v. 14).
Christians should realize that they have a pressing duty to grow in virtue as long
as they live in this world (v. 15): “God may have given us just one more year in
which to serve him. Don’t think of five, or even two. Just concentrate on this one
year, that has just started. Give it to God, don’t bury it! This is the resolution we
ought to make” (St. J. Escriva, “Friends of God”, 47).

The practice of virtue leads to holiness and enduring union with God (v. 14; cf. 1
Thess 3:13). “’While we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord’ (2
Cor 5:6) and, although we have the first fruits of the Spirit, we groan inwardly (cf.
Rom 8:23) in our anxiety to be with Christ (cf. Phil 1:23). The same love urges
us to live more for Him who died for us and who rose again (cf. 2 Cor 5:15). We
make it our aim, then, to please the Lord in all things (cf. 2 Cor 5:9) and we put
on the armor of God that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil
and resist the evil day (cf. Eph 6: 13)” (”Lumen Gentium”, 48).

12. “Waiting for and hastening”: these two verbs convey the idea that Christian
hope is something dynamic; it is in no way passive. Contrary to a view quite
widespread among the Jews of the time, it does not mean that the Parousia
will come sooner, the more meritorious men are; what it means is that the more
closely united to Christ they are, the nearer they are to his glory. Therefore, it is
urgent that all should embrace faith in Christ. We who have this faith pray in the
Our Father, “Thy kingdom come.” The first Christians made the same petition in
their ejaculatory prayer, “Marana tha”, “Come, Lord” (1 Cor 16:22; Rev 22:20),
referring to the second coming of the Lord.

“The day of God”: the usual expression in the New Testament is “the day of the
Lord” (1 Cor 1:8; 5:5; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Thess 2:2; 2 Pet 3: 10); both expressions
refer to the point at which Christ will come to judge the living and the dead.

13. “New heavens and a new earth”: one of things promised for the End is that
creation will be renewed, re-fashioned: the prophets proclaimed this (cf. Is 65:
17), and the New Testament speaks of drinking new wine at the heavenly ban-
quet (cf. Mt 14:25), being given a new name (cf. Rev 2:17), singing a new song
(cf. Rev 5:9), living in a new Jerusalem (Rev 21:3). All this imagery conveys the
idea that the whole universe will be transformed, man included (cf. Rom 8:19-22).
“We know neither the moment of the consummation of the earth and of man (cf.
Acts 1:7) nor the way the universe will be transformed. The form of this world, di-
storted by sin, is passing away (cf. 1 Cor 7:31), and we are taught that God is
preparing a new dwelling and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (cf. 2
Cor 5:2; 2 Pet 3:13), whose happiness will fill and surpass all the desires of
peace arising in the hearts of men” (”Gaudium Et Spes”, 39).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 12/03/2011 7:53:06 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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