Pope Francis has made “The joy of the Gospel” a commonplace expression. But don’t think this is an innovation! The Old Testament does have genealogies, battles, mayhem, detailed laws and even more detailed descriptions for constructing the Tabernacle, all of which can make for hard reading. Yet along with the prose, there is a wealth of poetry. Not only the psalms, but the prophetic books too have an abundance of spiritual nourishment that is easily accessible, poems filled with hope and joy. The prophets had amazingly sharp vision. True, it allowed them to see sin and its consequences far more clearly than most. Yet the same acute vision revealed to them God’s goodness and love breaking into our world over and over. Building on Isaiah 40, today’s passage from Baruch is a powerful example of “The joy of the Old Testament”.
Salvation history is the unfolding of deliverance after deliverance. The deliverance from slavery in Egypt gives imagery and language to name the deliverance from exile. Later, God’s redeeming love is hymned again when the Maccabees free the nation. We prepare in Advent for the greatest liberation, inaugurated by the coming of Christ in the Incarnation.
How did the authors of scripture reimagine deliverance in the past as a way to name the experience of God’s goodness and grace in the present? Read the first two verses of our 1st reading. Read them again, but think about the Easter Vigil, and baptism: taking off street clothes, and putting on a white baptismal garment; leaving behind one way of life, and embracing a new one. Being named by God ‘the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship