Year A: 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Isaiah 49: 14-15
A very short - but very telling Reading - especially in the light of the Gospel today.
The people of Israel - Zion - are in exile. They are in despair. The God of their ancestors has let them be defeated and taken into exile in Babylon. This cannot be happening - and yet it is - so where, oh where is God?
The cry goes up - the Lord has abandoned His people to their fate - the Lord has forgotten those He loved.
The image that is given to ďIsaiahĒ to share with the people is one of great tenderness - of a mother with her baby suckling at her breast - or delighting in the children she has given birth to.
God asks whether such woman can forget their children - can the one who is suckling her new-born forget that it needs her - or the one rejoicing in the gifts of her children - can she forget?
It seems unthinkable - and, except in very rare cases - women do not stop loving their children. Where they do, it is a cause for great grief to themselves and to their children.
But, God says, His love is the perfection of a motherís love. Mothers do not easily forget their children - and yet, even in those desperately sad cases where they do, God promises that He will be faithful - He will never forget the children He has created and brought into the world.
The reading, in fact, continues with another memorable image which speaks of Godís having written Zionís name on the palm of His hand.
It is a reading that offers enormous reassurance to us even today. There are many times when we feel lost and abandoned - and wonder whether anyone cares. This reading can remind us that God has neither forgotten nor abandoned us. It simply is not possible for God to do so.
What does it mean for me?
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