Isaiah the Poet

Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

October 21, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Isaiah for our Responsorial Psalm.

God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
Who has been my savior.

Isaiah 12: 2-3

But how do we get to the degree of steadfast faith described here by Isaiah, a faith that is confident, unafraid, strong and courageous? Isaiah says it is like satisfying a deep thirst at a flowing fountain.


We all know how unpleasant it is to be thirsty, but what about really thirsty?

I’m a pretty big fan of old cowboy movies. A standard scene in many of these is the forlorn rider traversing a parched plain, longing for water.

by Stanley L. Wood

Now that’s “thirsty”! And that is the degree of longing Paul describes in today’s passage from Ephesians, a longing for that “water” that had been hidden through the ages:

To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given,
to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ,
and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery
hidden from ages past in God who created all things,
so that the manifold wisdom of God
might now be made known …


… the inscrutable riches of Christ…

This is the Fountain to which we are invited as we open ourselves through the Word of God in scripture, sacrament, and sacred circumstance of our lives.


Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!

Isaiah 12: 5-6

The “glorious achievement” proclaimed by Isaiah is the same “manifold wisdom” to which Paul says we all have access by faith:

… the manifold wisdom of God …
… accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness of speech
and confidence of access through faith in him.

Ephesians 3: 10-12

In our Gospel, Jesus tells that this gift, this Fountain, once opened to us, demands our faithful response:

Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

So as we drink deeply of this Fountain, let us pray for a grateful, responsive fidelity for the gift we have been given.


Poem: excerpt from “Water Sign Woman” by Lucille Clifton

Photo by Kevin Bidwell on Pexels.com
the woman who feels everything
sits in her new house
waiting for someone to come
who knows how to carry water
without spilling, who knows
why the desert is sprinkled
with salt, why tomorrow
is such a long and ominous word.

they say to the feel things woman
that little she dreams is possible,
that there is only so much
joy to go around, only so much
water. there are no questions
for this, no arguments. she has
to forget to remember the edge
of the sea, they say, to forget
how to swim to the edge, she has

to forget how to feel. the woman
who feels everything sits in her
new house retaining the secret
the desert knew when it walked
up from the ocean, the desert,

so beautiful in her eyes;
water will come again
if you can wait for it.
she feels what the desert feels.
she waits.

Music: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing written by Robert Robinson (1758) sung here by Fernando Ortega

Isaiah Sings!

Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr

August 14, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with a passage from the poet-prophet Isaiah in which he calls the people to rejoice at their deliverance.

Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!


Isaiah 12 is one of a number of hymns found outside the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. Other examples are Exodus 15:1-18, 21 and Amos 4:13; 5:8-9; 9:5-6 (Craddock, Hayes, Holliday, Tucker: Preaching through the Christian Year)

For an excellent graphic overview of these “songs”, click here. I enjoyed studying this chart.


Isaiah’s first eleven chapters center on God’s judgement for Israel’s infidelity. But Isaiah is never without hope. Chapter 12 is a joyful and grateful hymn celebrating that hope.

Isaiah’s hymn hit the right chord for me today. I think hope is a little hard to come by in these pandemic days, don’t you? 

Besides Covid, there are quite a few others “stabs” out there as we try to float the hope’s balloon – unemployment, business uncertainty, climate concerns, natural disasters, political irresponsibility, leadership failures just to reference a few. For some, these issues are so oppressive that they, “feel like it’s the end of the world”.


Isaiah is the guy when we feel even a little bit like this. Isaiah was profoundly convinced that God is with us in all our experiences and will ultimately resolve them for our good.

God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.


Poetry: To Go into the Dark by Wendell Berry

To go into the dark with a light
is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark,
go without sight.
And find
that the dark too
blooms and sings
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

Music:  Winter Cold Night – John Foley, SJ

Yes, this is a Christmas song, but I think it carries the perfect feeling for today’s reflection. Indeed, Jesus Christ is our Hope. May his Light be born in us daily.

Dark, dark, the winter cold night. Lu-lee-lay.
Hope is hard to come by. Lu-lee-lay.
Hard, hard, the journey tonight. Lu—lee-lay.
Star, guide, hope, hide our poor, winter cold night.
And on earth, peace, good will among men.
Lean, lean, the livin' tonight. Lu-lee-lay.
Star seems darker sometimes. Lu-lee-lay.
Unto you is born this day a Savior.
Pain, yes, in the bornin' tonight. Lu lee—lay.
Star, guide, hope, hide our poor, winter cold night.