Day 192: The Prophet Isaiah

The Book of Isaiah

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(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Isaiah 1-66 This book is one of the best known and most quoted of the Old Testament writings. This is due in large part to its contents: the greatest number of prophecies related directly to the Birth, ministry, suffering, and Death of Christ. Chapters 1-39 constitute a collection of various writings and prophecies over a period of time but are not necessarily in chronological order. Chapters 40-55 were written toward the end of the Babylonian Exile, when the Persians had conquered all the nations that surrounded Babylon and were poised for attack. The Jews, concerned that a Persian takeover of Babylon might make matters worse, were uncertain about their future and pessimistic about returning to the land of Judah. (As it turned out, the Persians did conquer Babylon but proved to be benevolent conquerors; King Cyrus of the Persians allowed the exiles to return home with his blessing [cf. Ezr 1:1-8].) Chapters 56-66 reflect the grave difficulties associated with rebuilding and reestablishing an orderly society and proper worship in Jerusalem and Judah as the returned exiles found their land all but destroyed, their Temple razed, and the prevalence of idolatry and lawlessness. These last two sections are particularly rich in prophecies of the coming Messiah and find frequent expression in the Church’s liturgy.

Ch 1:1-9 The first prophecy in this book recalls briefly Israel’s history of infidelity, which the Lord likens to a rebellious child and an animal less virtuous than a beast of burden. Although the sins of the people are serious and deep-seated, Isaiah’s tone is one of lamentation rather than judgement. He wept over those who failed to realize that their troubles were due to their sinful infidelities.

Oil: Anointing with oil is a sign of healing because oil is used as a salve for wounds and injuries. (CCC 762, 1293)

Ch 1:8 Besieged city: The historical context of the first part of this book is that, in the latter half of the eight century BC, the Assyrian army under Sargon II had attacked and conquered several nations and presented a constant threat to the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Each kingdom had become a vassal state of Assyria, paying tribute and forming military alliances. Later, the Northern Kingdom broke from the agreement and formed an alliance with Syria against Assyria. This not only angered Assyria but also divided Israel further from Judah, which had remained an Assyrian vassal. This Assyrian dominance over Judah was divine punishment imposed on King Ahaz for having trusted more in his own military might than in the power of God. Assyria helped Judah defend against the attacks from Syria and Israel in 735 BC. In 722 BC, the Assyrians would conquer Samaria and exile the people of the Northern Kingdom to Assyria, effectively ending the existence of the ten northern tribes. Nearly two decades later, King Hezekiah, who succeeded his father Ahaz on the throne of Judah, reversed the policies of his father and decided to revolt against Assyria, trusting instead in the Lord. Sargon’s successor, Sennacherib, attacked Judah brutally, inflicting many casualties and much damage, being stopped miraculously short of taking Jerusalem.

Ch 1:10-20 Isaiah stressed that acts of worship or devotion must be accompanied by interior conversion, penance, and humility. True fidelity to God is expressed in works of charity and a spirit of mercy toward the downtrodden. A burnt offering means nothing to God unless it is accompanied by deeds of service toward neighbor and sensitivity to those in need. 

Cease to do evil, learn to do good: Though the avoidance of sin is indispensable, it certainly does not define the Christian life. Someone who desires to do good must have a deep prayer life and develop a habitual spirit of service and compassion. (CCC 1430, 1435, 2100, 2208-2211)

Ch 1:21-31 As the prophecy continued to take a harsher turn, Isaiah mourned the present condition of Jerusalem, which was steeped in sin. However, in the same oracle he proclaimed that the city would undergo a restoration marked by purification and conversion from sin.

Mighty one of Israel: God’s titles in Scripture often reflect his omnipotence. (CCC 269)

Ch 2:1-5 This prophecy, which explicitly concerns the restoration of Jerusalem, has also been applied to the one true Church founded by Christ. These verses relate that the New Temple would not only serve the Jewish People but also draw Gentiles from every corner of the world-a prophecy that finds its ultimate fulfillment in the new and eternal Covenant established by Christ. (CCC 64, 762)

Ch 2:2-5 St. John Paul II said that this passage presents “an invitation not to be fixed on the present that is so wretched, but to sense beneath the surface of daily events the mysterious presence of divine action leading history toward a very different horizon of light and peace.” (General Audience, September 4, 2002)

Ch 2:4 Peace is more than the mere absence of conflict; it is a state of affairs in which justice and charity prevail. “If you want peace, work for justice” is a phrase coined by Blessed Paul VI to express the need to root out injustices that militate against the common good and are the root causes of war. (CCC 2317)

Ch 2:6-22 God alone is worthy of our complete trust. Trust in wealth, power, and astrological seers leads to defeat.

In that day: A reference to the “day of the Lord,” an eschatological term that refers to a future day when God will be exalted once and for all. (CCC 154, 2677)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

The Book of Tobit

Author and Date:


Main Themes:

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Tobit 1-14 This is not a historical book so much as a story with a valuable lesson and message. It is set in the time of Assyrian Exile but could easily apply to any Jewish community in exile. Its message continues the familiar theme in the Old Testament about how God rewards and protects those who are faithful to him; additionally, it explores the problem of pain and misfortune among people who are otherwise virtuous. Old assumptions regarding sickness and misfortune as a punishment for personal sins are challenged by the apparent contradictions to this belief. Ultimately, the conclusion is the same as before-God blesses the just-but it also recognizes that a holy life will include suffering. Nevertheless, these trials are opportunities out of which God brings forth something good. Ultimately, the faithful are rewarded, and those who choose not to repent of their sins are punished after death. The principal message is that bearing our troubles patiently and, at the same time, trusting in the goodness and providence of God will result in many blessings. 

Ch 1:1-22 Writing in the first person, Tobit described the time period during which the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel led the people into apostasy. These transgressions involved the golden calves at shrines erected by Jeroboam and the establishment of another priesthood not in accord with God’s will. Tobit remained part of the faithful minority in the Northern Kingdom who followed the Law and observed the prescribed feasts in Jerusalem. The Assyrian Exile began around 722 BC, and, even in Nineveh (the city to which Jonah preached), Tobit refused to eat meat sacrificed to idols and continued in his faith.

Ch 1:16-18 Along with feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, giving a proper burial to the dead is one of the seven Corporal Works of Mercy. Proper treatment of the bodies of the dead is an outgrowth of human dignity and an obligation of charity. Church teaching sees the material body not as a mere “shell” for the immortal soul but as a vital part of the person that will be glorified on the Last Day. The body is also sacred since it is vivified and configured by the immortal soul made in the image of God. Through the body we are able to serve others, to carry out the will of God, to receive the Sacraments, to cooperate with God in begetting new life, and to lift our voices in praise. Through Baptism and Confirmation, our bodies become “temples of the Holy Spirit” since the grace of God the Holy Spirit dwells within us. (CCC 2300)

Ch 2:1-14 Even in exile, Tobit and his family observed the Jewish feasts. In this instance, they were celebrating Pentecost with a special meal. Tobit put the needy ahead of himself, first seeking a person to share his meal and then leaving the table to bury the body of one who has died. His compassion led him to share in the suffering of those who required mercy, prefiguring the love of Christ.

Ch 2:12-18 [VULGATE BIBLE] The Catechism references several verses that are not included here from the Vulgate translation of Scripture that reflect on Tobit’s blindness, a predicament that leads to the question of why bad things happen to good people. This question is also raised in the Book of Job, to which this passage refers. The answer given is twofold and can be summarized this way: God, as a good Father, disciplines his children with love, often in ways they do not understand, and God often allows evil to happen so that greater good may come of it. The greatest example of this latter point is the Death of his Son, Jesus Christ-the most innocent victim of all-for, through his Death, Resurrection, and Ascension into Heaven, we have the possibility of receiving the forgiveness of sin and eternal life in Heaven. It is important to state, however, that while good may come of evil, it can never be justified or seen as good. In other words, the good that may result from an intrinsically evil act does not justify the evil act itself (THE ENDS DO NOT JUSTIFY THE MEANS). (CCC 312)

Proverbs 9:7-18 The search for wisdom involves a sincere desire to know the truth coupled with a firm commitment to act always in accord with moral law. This pursuit of wisdom requires a habitual rectitude of one’s intentions and a renewed resolution to act in a virtuous way. The practice of forming a conscience inspired by wisdom rests on the continual effort to flee temptations and near occasions of sin promptly. (CCC 1839)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)


(Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. We thank you for this new step, this new day, this Day 192. And we get to enter into two new books and not only two new books, the books of the prophets and also this Book of Tobit that for many people who are listening have never heard your Word in this way before. And so we give you thanks for that. We give you thanks for the opportunity, like Tobit, to seek righteousness and to seek what is doing right, to try to be faithful no matter where we are living. Lord God, please help us to be faithful no matter where we are living, no matter who we are living with, no matter the people, the nation, the family, the roommate, whoever it is that we are living with, Lord God. Help us to remain faithful to you in all things in all places at all times. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”