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Isaiah 33

Canticle - The Lord will give just judgement
“The promise that was made is for you and your children and for all those who are far away” (Acts 2, 39)

Hear, you who are far off,
  what I have done;
and you who are near,
  acknowledge my might.

The sinners in Sion are afraid;
  trembling has seized the godless:
‘Who among us can dwell with the devouring fire?
  Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?’

He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
  who despises the gain of oppressions,
  who shakes his hands lest they hold a bribe,
who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed
  and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil,

He will dwell on the heights;
  his place of defence will be the fortresses of rocks;
his bread will be given him,
  his water will be sure.

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II on the Canticle of Isaiah 2, 2-5
General Audience, Wednesday 27 February 2002 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Week 3, Monday Lauds - "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares"

"1. The daily liturgy of Lauds, in addition to the Psalms, always offers a canticle from the Old Testament. Indeed, it is well known that besides the Psalter, the true prayer book of Israel and later of the Church, another sort of "Psalter" exists, found among the various historical, prophetic and sapiential pages of the Bible. It also consists in hymns, supplications, praises and invocations, often of great beauty and spiritual intensity.

In our spiritual pilgrimage through the prayers of the Liturgy of Lauds, we have already seen many of these songs that are scattered through the pages of the Bible. We will now examine one that is really admirable, the work of Isaiah, one of Israel's greatest prophets, who lived in eighth century before Christ. He was the witness of the difficult times lived by the Kingdom of Judah, but also sang of messianic hope in deeply poetic language.

2. This is the case with the Canticle we have just heard, which is placed very near the beginning of the Book of Isaiah, in the first verses of chapter two. It is introduced by a later editorial note which says: "The Vision of Isaiah, the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem" (Is 2,1). The hymn is conceived as a prophetic vision describing a goal towards which the history of Israel moves in hope. It is not by accident that the first words: "In the last days" (v. 2), that is, in the fullness of time. It is therefore 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 towards a very different horizon of light and peace.

This "vision" of messianic flavour will be taken up again in chapter 60 of the same Book in a broader perspective, a sign of the rethinking of the prophet's essential and incisive words, those of the Canticle we have just heard. The Prophet Micah (cf. 4,1-3) will take up the same hymn, although his ending (cf. 4,4-5) differs from that of the oracle of Isaiah (cf. Is 2,5).

3. At the heart of Isaiah's "vision" rises Mount Zion, which speaking figuratively will rise above all the other mountains, since it is God's dwelling place and so the place of contact with heaven (cf. I Kgs 8,22-53). From here according to Isaiah's saying in 60, 1-6, a light will emanate that will rend and disperse the darkness and toward it will move processions of nations from every corner of the earth.

The power of attraction of Zion is based on two realities that emanate from the Holy Mountain of Jerusalem: the Law and the Word of the Lord. In truth, they constitute a single reality which is the source of life, light and peace, an expression of the mystery of the Lord and of his will. When the nations reach the summit of Zion where the temple of God rises, then the miracle will take place which humanity has always awaited and for which it longs. The peoples will drop their weapons which will then be collected and made into tools for peaceful work: swords will be beaten into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks. Thus will dawn a horizon of peace, of shalôm in Hebrew (cf. Is 60,17), a word particularly cherished by Messianic theology. At last the curtain falls forever on war and hatred.

4. Isaiah's saying ends with an appeal, in harmony with the spirituality of the hymns of pilgrimage to Jerusalem: "O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord" (Is 2,5). Israel must not be a mere a spectator of this radical historical transformation; she cannot dissociate herself from the invitation that rang out in the opening, on the peoples' lips: "Come, let us climb the mountain of the Lord" (v. 3). We Christians are also challenged by this Canticle of Isaiah. In commenting on it, the Fathers of the Church of the fourth and fifth centuries (Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Theodoret of Cyr, Cyril of Alexandria) saw it fulfilled with the coming of Christ. Consequently they identified the Church with the "mountain of the house of the Lord ... established as the highest of the mountains", from which came the Word of the Lord and to which the pagan peoples streamed, in the new era of peace inaugurated by the Gospel.

5. Already the martyr St Justin, in The First Apology, written about the year 153, announced that the verse of the Canticle which says: "the word of the Lord [would go forth] from Jerusalem" (cf. v. 3) had come to pass. He wrote "For twelve illiterate men, unskilled in the art of speaking, went out from Jerusalem into the world, and by the power of God they announced to the men of every nation that they were sent by Christ to teach everyone the word of God; and we, who once killed one another, [now] not only do not wage war against our enemies, but, in order to avoid lying or deceiving our examiners, we even meet death cheerfully, confessing Christ". (Prima Apologia, 39,3: Gli apologeti greci, Rome 1986, p. 118. The First Apology, chapter 39, pp. 75-76, CUA Press).

For this reason, in a special way let us Christians welcome the prophet's appeal and seek to lay the foundations of the civilization of love and peace in which there will be no more war, "and death will be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor pain any more for the former things have passed away" (Apoc 21,4)."


"I am pleased to greet the athletes and representatives of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation. My cordial welcome also goes to the Capuchin Brothers from Africa taking part in a programme of spiritual renewal. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from Ireland, Malta, the Philippines, South Africa and the United States I invoke joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Je suis heureux de saluer les pèlerins de langue française, notamment les Prêtres de Saint-Jacques et leurs familles. Je vous invite tous à œuvrer pour que se développe la civilisation de l’amour et de la paix, et je vous bénis de grand cœur.

Herzlich begrüße ich die Pilger und Besucher aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache sowie aus den Niederlanden und aus Belgien. Die Stadt Gottes, das Reich des Friedens ist unser Lebensziel. Bleiben wir auf dem Weg! Gerne erteile ich Euch und Euren Lieben daheim sowie allen, die mit uns über Radio Vatikan und das Fernsehen verbunden sind, den Apostolischen Segen.

Saúdo os peregrinos de língua portuguesa aqui presentes, desejando-lhes todo o bem, com as graças divinas, na sua caminhada como novo Povo de Deus. Em particular, sejam bem-vindos os portugueses das paróquias de São Pedro do Porto, Santa Maria de Feira e alguns visitantes de Lisboa, Vilela e Portimão. Saúdo também um grupo de brasileiros e a tripulação do Navio-escola «Brasil». A todos felicito e vos abençôo, assim como às vossas famílias.

Saludo a los fieles de lengua española; en especial a los franciscanos de diversas provincias de España, así como a los peregrinos de las diócesis de Alcalá, Murcia, Tarazona y Barquisimento. ¡Interpelados por este cántico, sed constructores de la civilización del amor y de la paz!

Ik groet nu de Nederlandse en Belgische pelgrims, in het bijzonder de seminaristen en de docenten van het Grootseminarie „Sint Janscentrum". Moge uw pelgrimstocht naar de graven van de apostelen uw geloof versterken, zodat ieder van u kan bijdragen aan de evangelisatie van onze samenleving. Van harte verleen ik u de Apostolische Zegen. Geloofd zij Jezus Christus!

Nyní se obracím na poutníky z Brodku u Přerova. Rád vás vítám zde v Římě, při stolci Petrově! Kéž tato pouť ve vás rozmnoží víru, věrnost a lásku ke Kristu! Nechť vás provází mé apoštolské požehnání! Chvála Kristu!

S láskou pozdravujem pútnikov zo Slovenska. Osobitne vítam mladých pútnikov z humanitárnej organizácie Spoločnost' priatel'ov detí z detských domovov - ÚSMEV AKO DAR. Žehnám ich prácu v prospech opustcných detí, ktorou im pomáhajú nájst’ nové rodinné prostredie. Rád žehnám vás všetkých i vašich drahých doma. Pochválený bud' Ježiš Kristus!

Prisrčno pozdravljam udeležence prvega znanstvenega simpozija o velikem slovenskem teologu dvajsetega stoletja, doktorju Francu Grivcu. Sadovi vašega dela naj koristijo slovenski in mednarodni javnosti. Naj vas zato spremlja moj Apostolski Blagoslov!

[In Polish] Saluto il Card. Primate della Polonia, il Metropolita di Cracovia, il Metropolita di Przemysl e Mons. Piotr Libera, segretario della Conferenza Episcopale Polacca. Vi ringrazio per la visita che state compiendo a nome dell'Episcopato polacco dopo il mio indimenticabile pellegrinaggio in Patria, a Cracovia, a Kalwaria, per il quale insieme rendiamo grazie a Dio.


Rivolgo ora un cordiale saluto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare, saluto gli allievi Ufficiali dell’Accademia militare di Modena, qui convenuti numerosi; i membri della Croce Bianca di Biassono, che ricordano il 25° anniversario di fondazione della loro Sezione; i fedeli di Nembro, accompagnati dal loro parroco.

Ed ora saluto i giovani, i malati e gli sposi novelli. Cari giovani, mentre vi disponete a riprendere le consuete attività quotidiane dopo il periodo delle vacanze, vi esorto a essere in ogni circostanza veri testimoni di speranza e di pace. Invito voi, cari ammalati, a trovare conforto nel Signore sofferente, che continua la sua opera di redenzione nella vita di ogni uomo. A voi, cari sposi novelli, auguro che il vostro amore sia sempre più vero, e solidale verso gli altri.

A tutti la mia Benedizione."