Our first reading is from Chapter Forty-Nine of Isaiah. Now, what we call the Book of the Prophet Isaiah is actually two books, with the first half concluding with Chapter Thirty-Nine when Jerusalem’s King Hezekiah foolishly showed Jerusalem’s treasury and armory to visitors from Babylon. That was back in 710 B.C.. An entirely different book starts in 535 B.C.
We give the name of Second Isaiah to the unknown writer of this second part of the Book of Isaiah. It was written when Emperor Cyrus II of Persia freed the Jewish slaves in Babylon, allowing them to return to the ruins of Jerusalem that their parents had left seventy years before. Many of the Jews had put down roots in Babylon, and they were unwilling to make the difficult journey through wild places to get to the Jerusalem their grandparents had left seventy years before.
The meaning of the reading for us is that instead of fearing death, we should know that if we have faith the Lord will make easy for us the journey to the heavenly Jerusalem.