Thursday within the Octave of the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord
Scripture: Isaiah 61-63 (NKJV)
61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 “To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,
3 “to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.
5 Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6 But you shall be named the priests of the LORD, they shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory you shall boast.
7 Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
8 “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, and will make with them an everlasting covenant.
9 “Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people. All who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the posterity whom the LORD has blessed.”
10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, 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 ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns.
2 The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name.
3 You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem In the hand of your God.
4 You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; For the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
6 I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent,
7 And give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
8 The LORD has sworn by His right hand and by the arm of His strength: “Surely I will no longer give your grain as food for your enemies; And the sons of the foreigner shall not drink your new wine, for which you have labored.
9 “But those who have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the LORD; Those who have brought it together shall drink it in My holy courts.”
10 Go through, go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; Build up, build up the highway! Take out the stones, lift up a banner for the peoples!
11 Indeed the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the world: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.'”
12 And they shall call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; And you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.
63:1 Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength?—”I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
2 Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
3 “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes.
4 “For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come.
5 “I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to uphold; Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; And My own fury, it sustained Me.
6 “I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, made them drunk in My fury, and brought down their strength to the earth.”
7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.
8 For He said, “Surely they are My people, children who will not lie.” So He became their Savior.
9 In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; And He bore them and carried them all the days of old.
10 But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; So He turned Himself against them as an enemy, and He fought against them.
11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying: “Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them,
12 “Who led them by the right hand of Moses, with His glorious arm, dividing the water before them to make for Himself an everlasting name,
13 “who led them through the deep, as a horse in the wilderness, that they might not stumble?”
14 As a beast goes down into the valley, and the Spirit of the LORD causes him to rest, so You lead Your people, to make Yourself a glorious name.
15 Look down from heaven, and see from Your habitation, holy and glorious. Where are Your zeal and Your strength, the yearning of Your heart and Your mercies toward me? Are they restrained?
16 Doubtless You are our Father, though Abraham was ignorant of us, and Israel does not acknowledge us. You, O LORD, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.
17 O LORD, why have You made us stray from Your ways, and hardened our heart from Your fear? Return for Your servants’ sake, the tribes of Your inheritance.
18 Your holy people have possessed it but a little while; Our adversaries have trodden down Your sanctuary.
19 We have become like those of old, over whom You never ruled, those who were never called by Your name.
In St. Luke 4, Jesus read Isaiah 61 in the synagogue in Nazareth one day, sat down and said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The people marveled at Him, not allowing the reports of what He had done in Capernaum to create faith, but wanting Him to put on a show for them and give them their “fare share” of His miracle working. Yet, He knew that doing so would neither cause them to believe, nor get them to receive the fact that His Word was more than the miracles. Their prejudice—both toward Him and toward the Gentiles—would keep them from the blessed state of affairs described in that chapter.
That would not, though, make Jesus keep silence. Rather, as the prophet wrote, He would proclaim salvation and make salvation, so that all nations could treasure what He would do in Jerusalem. Even so, the daughter of Zion—the Bride of Christ built by Christ’s sacrifice—would be the true eternal and unforsaken city, the Redeemed of Yahweh, the Sought Out. While those whom He had delivered again and again in the Old Testament had “become like those over whom [He] never ruled, like those who are not called by [His] name,” still the prophet would remember what the Lord had done in former days. Through God the Son He would give to all who would trust in His promise what He had given to fallen Israel: “And he became their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them.”
We pray: We thank You, O Lord Christ, that You were truly born for us and took our sins upon Yourself, being afflicted with all of the affliction we had brought upon ourselves, so that You might redeem us and make us Your own. Amen.