No Man Born of Woman

Hear me, O coastlands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

(Isaiah 49:1-6)
A dear friend and priest once said to me when I was a freshman in college, “This is how God chooses to run his business–he saves people through other people.” This passage from Isaiah speaks to a calling, a very clear destiny and direction for one’s life– to be the instrument of the Lord and a light to proclaim his “salvation to the ends of the earth.” And it’s very clear that we may not see it, for the prophet at first thought he “had toiled in vain for nothing,” only to discover later that his work was essential. The final motivation for our works must be the Lord, for He is the one who holds our “reward” and “recompense.” But this idea of being chosen by God to help in His saving plan can become trite and lose meaning for us. In times like that, I find it helpful to think of John the Baptist.
At the Visitation of the Blessed Mother to her cousin Elizabeth, John the Baptist leaped in his mother’s womb, affirming simultaneously Mary’s motherhood and Christ’s divinity. He goes on to spend his adult life in the desert, administering a Baptism of repentance, awaiting One who has lived in his heart since that moment, one who in turn waits for the encounter with John in order to begin His ministry. Not only did God know John in the womb– John also knew God in the womb! His prophetic spirit cried out, and this encounter perhaps sustained him through the years of asceticism in the desert. Brothers and sisters, haven’t we each felt this sense of missing, this sense of homesickness for a place we can’t exactly name? At times it is only this supernatural longing that convinces me of the truth of the Gospel; in fact, it is the most compelling evidence I possess. May God make our longing fruitful, may He continue to remind us that life is not a mistake, is not a cruel joke, but is a coming home to Him. To quote Pier Giorgio, “The end for which we are created invites us to walk a road that is surely sown with a lot of thorns, but it is not sad; through even the sorrow, it is illuminated by joy.”

2 thoughts on “No Man Born of Woman

  1. This was a blessing for me to read today as the road sure has some thorns and wondering what is it all for. Thanks for this encouraging article. God bless ya!

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