June 3, 2012
Today we hear of the call to prophecy of First Isaiah, who was to become a brilliant court prophet and advisor to kings. The call came to him, he tells us, in a vision. He saw God on his throne, not in heaven, but in the Jerusalem Temple, in the sanctum sanctorum which, of course, Isaiah had never entered. No one was allowed into this inner sanctum but the high priest. He would have known, however, that the sacred chest, the Arc, stood there, and on its top was a throne for God made of lapis lazuli and crystal. The strange looking six-winged angels are seraphim, derived from ancient Mesopotamian religions; they are warriors, guardians of God. They certainly were rough with Isaiah. They did not wash out his mouth with soap.
For Paul conversion or faith allows the Holy Spirit to enter into us. The Spirit helps the faithful to pray, and it helps them to understand that they are the children of God and will have eternal life. It allows them to cry “Abba,” meaning something like “Daddy,” and to know that they are heirs to God’s goodness and peace. Most importantly, it allows them to know that in suffering, they join their God, who suffered, and will be “glorified with him.”
Arthur H. Cash is a historian and distinguished professor emeritus, State University of New York at New Paltz.