Thus says the Lord: In a time of favor I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you; I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages; saying to the prisoners, “Come out,” to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.” They shall feed along the ways, on all the bare heights shall be their pasture; they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them down, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them.
And I will turn all my mountains into a road, and my highways shall be raised up. Lo, these shall come from far away, and lo, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Syene.
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones. But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
We recently had a “year’s mind” memorial Mass for a much-loved chaplain at our hospital. A whole bunch of people came: some, physicians and nurses and staff, current and past, who had been the objects of his wise counsel and good humor; others, past patients of Fr. Tom who had been cared for by him at the hardest times of their lives.
Many came on walkers or in wheelchairs, most of them showing the wear of years — all of them braving one of our many “arctic blasts” this winter. Memories and tears flowed equally: these people couldn’t forget a man they’d come to love over months or years, or in a few crucial days when they most needed him.
Reflecting on that Mass, I thought of Isaiah’s picture of God in today’s reading: a God who can no more forget us, his loved ones, than a woman can forget her infant child, or colleagues and patients a holy chaplain. Even if many of the good things Isaiah promised Israel aren’t always recognizable in our world – a world where lands are desolate, prisons are full, disasters natural and man-made abound – we have plenty of evidence to ground our belief in what God said then: “I shall never forget you!”
As Lent wears on, we need to keep reminding ourselves of that. We need to pray daily and confidently to the One who can never forget, the God who delivers us from all evil and provides healing balm for all our ills. God of love and mercy, be ever at our side!
—Fr. John J. O’Callaghan, S.J. is senior chaplain for the health sciences division at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood IL
Lord, you never forget us. When fear crowds out our joy, you never forget us. When we stand confused and aimless, you never forget us. When we let you down and when we disappoint others, you never forget us. When we slide by focusing on ourselves, you never forget us. And when we doubt you and forget the many times you rescued us, you never forget us.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!