Today’s readings from the Old and New Testament complement one another. Isaiah 35:1-10 describes a “holy way” to Jerusalem’s “holy mountain” through the wilderness. God will bring Jewish exiles from Babylon on that holy way. God calls all nations, all people to take it. The blind, the deaf, the lame, the fearful will take it, for God will strengthen them. The lame will leap “like a stag” and the “tongue of the mute will sing.”
The paralyzed man brought to Jesus in the gospel is sent on his way singing and dancing, I imagine. (Luke 5:17-26) He’s a symbol of a paralyzed world that Jesus sends on its journey. We’re to see in the gospel story Jesus fulfilling the hopes of the prophets and people of the Old Testament. He’s also fulfilling humanity’s hopes, our hopes as well. Isaiah’s vision isn’t small. God wishes to heal our paralyzed world.
Our vision should not be small then. Too often we can give up on things and people and the world itself. “They’re not going anywhere.” “They’ll never change.” “The world’s never going to change.” We live in a cynical world.
We shouldn’t forget the men who lowered the paralyzed man from the roof down to where Jesus was and the others who looked for his cure. They were people of hope, willing to chance it with someone who looked like he would never move his limbs again. We need more of their kind today.
“They will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
Then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing…
A highway will be there,
called the holy way;
No one unclean may pass over it,
nor fools go astray on it.
No lion will be there,
nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it.
It is for those with a journey to make,
and on it the redeemed will walk.”