First Reading: Isaiah 62:1-5

See the Possible

1 For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness go forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. 2 The nations shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of YHWH shall name. 3 You shall also be a crown of beauty in the hand of YHWH, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall your land any more be termed Desolate: but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for YHWH delights in you, and your land shall be married. 5 For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons shall marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you.

World English Bible

It is always darkest before the dawn. Why do people curse the darkness, rather than hoping in the coming light?

From Third Isaiah, this passage was written in the time of "post celebration blues." After fifty years in exile, Jewish leadership had returned from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem. After several years of rejoicing the reality of hard work set in; the people's resolve began to slacken and dejection reared it ugly head. The people were home, but did not care about the task at hand.

In the midst of the city's depression, God declared his intent; he would speak until the city's glory (reputation) returns. [1] The city was being rebuilt because God wanted it, not through the mere efforts of the people. As the spokesperson of the divine, the prophet, too, would not be silent; he would praise, shame, and pester the people until the city was rebuilt to its glory. In this way, God really spoke through the prophet.

Once the city was rebuilt, non-Jews (i.e., the "nations" and kings) would witness its glory. God would pronounce the rebuilding by giving the city a new name and a crown, both reflecting the marriage of a young maiden to a king. [2-3] The virgin maiden has only the promise of adding to the kingdom with royal heirs; in this sense, she was "barren" or "desolate." In the same way, a city partially rebuilt was not truly whole; to some, it was barren and desolate, like some of our inner city neighborhoods. But only the cynic could not see potential; through God's eyes, even the barren and desolate had in them the seeds of joy and intimate relationship. Once the maiden married the king, she took a new name and a crown as queen. The city, too, would have a new reputation (name and crown) because of its close relationship with God. And like the joy at a marriage feast, the glory of the city would be a joy to God and its inhabitants [3-4].

Do we see the possible in the seemingly hopeless situation? Is this not a test of faith?