First Reading:  Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11


The Greatness of God


1 The Spirit of the Lord Yahweh is on me; because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good news to the humble. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to those who are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of Yahweh’s favor.


10 I will greatly rejoice in YHWH, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 61:11 For as the earth brings forth its bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord YHWH will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.


World English Bible


In the generations that followed the return of the exiles from Babylon, Jerusalem was rebuilt and its Temple was rededicated. But, those events did not stop the many local people from returning to the ways of their sinful ancestors. Some people began to mix religious practices, offering YHWH sacrifice in the Temple, while practicing the private rites of foreign gods. The faithful reacted with horror, fearing God's wrath as before. What would happen next?


The words of the so-called "Third Isaiah" answered those concerns. "Our God is great! Greater than any other dreamt by man," third Isaiah seemed to say. "He could not be contained by a Temple or a city. Yet, because of our God, the city and its holy place will be a sign of his power. So take comfort in the city."


Our God is great. Greater than the signs and symbols we use to worship him. Yet, he uses these things to communicate his presence. Hence we should take comfort in them, but not use them to limit God.


What ritual, prayer, or sacrament gives you comfort? Can you see the power of God beyond those activities? How?