Isaiah 61, Day 2

“Isaiah 61, Day 2”
Isaiah 61:3b
©️2020 by Gloria M. Chang

To comfort all who mourn;
to place on those who mourn in Zion
a diadem instead of ashes,
To give them oil of gladness instead of mourning,
a glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit.

They will be called oaks of justice,
the planting of the Lord to show his glory.

Isaiah 2b-3

Garland of Grace

Isaiah’s prophecy anticipates the second beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). 

The Annunciation, Fra Angelico, c. 1425-1426

In Fra Angelico’s painting of the Annunciation, the exile of Adam and Eve, mourning their disobedience in the Garden of Eden, offsets the re-creation of the world through Mary’s obedience.  Planting a new garden of paradise in the womb of the Virgin, God renews the earth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus Christ, the suffering and death ushered into the fallen world by sin will be transformed into grace and glory.

At the Last Supper Discourse, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter of “all who mourn” (John 14:16). By the power of the Paraclete, apostles will receive pe’ēr tachath ‘êpher (אפר תחת פאר)—“a crown of beauty instead of ashes” (Isaiah 61:3). Contrasting the garland (pe’ēr) of grace with the dust (‘êpher) of despair, Isaiah delighted his audience with his play on words.

Oil of Gladness

“The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit, to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 695

In ancient psalmody and custom, oil signifies joy and festivity.

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.

Psalm 45:7(8), ESV; cf. Hebrews 1:9

And wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

Psalm 104:15 (ESV)

You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Psalm 23:5b (ESV)

Mantle of Praise

Robed in a mantle of praise (ma’ateh tehillah) instead of a faint spirit, the saints will rise in glory to heaven like oaks of righteousness, never to be uprooted.

Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.

John 16:20

6 Replies to “Isaiah 61, Day 2”

  1. Dear GMC, Your reflection reminds me of a Franciscan thought: “The prophets remind us that we are called to live our lives in such a way that the nations will find their way to God through us.” Thank you, GMC, for your reflection which helps us find our way to God. Through joy and rejoicing!

    1. Gaudete Sunday reminds us to rejoice on the journey to Bethlehem.

      Gaudete, gaudete!
      Christus est natus
      Ex Maria virgine,

      Rejoice, rejoice!
      Christ is born
      Of the Virgin Mary –

  2. Your grief will become joy!
    What a powerful promise is mine.
    Grieving turns a slow clock.
    Recovery from loss takes time.
    The heart aches for loved ones lost.
    Memories flood as tears flow.
    How does one ever bear the cost
    to bid farewell to one loved so?
    Carry grief held in one hand;
    Carry gratitude in the other.
    Tears for loss; joy for life lived.
    Father, mother, sister or brother,
    Now at rest in God’s care.

    1. The strands of sorrow and joy in your reflection are moving. May your loved ones rest in the Father’s heart, and may Our Lady of Sorrows hold you close.

  3. I’m reminded of the oil that Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet at Bethany. Precious soothing for tired feet! Being a “walker,” I know about tired feet. Yet I see so much more when walking than riding on wheels. I recall a special day of reflection at the nearby retreat/monastery when the presenter, a Passionist priest, shared his visit to the Bethany house and chapel in the Holy Land. He brought along a sample of the same kind of perfumed oil which Mary used. The fragrance alone was soothing. I rejoice that Jesus had friends to soothe his aches and lift his heart.

    You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.

    Psalm 23:5b (ESV)

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