Instead, it is a reflection on Isaiah 55:6, “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”
If you’re not a Catholic, you might find this somewhat—if not patently—absurd. If, however, you keep reading. . . .
At first sight this verse from Isaiah seems—and indeed is—a hauntingly beautiful and complex verse. There’s a truly mystical quality to it, and the words are intensely poetic. One can sense the real communion and communication with Grace. And, one can sense both the anxiety and the hope of the Prophet Isaiah—certainly not atypical for the Old Testament Prophets, itself a stunning tradition.
So, for what they’re worth, I offer some various and very personal thoughts on this verse.
1. We must keep in mind that most people—in their day and in ours—ignored the Prophets. To most, they seemed merely frightful, dour.
But, of course, they burned with a holy fire; they were totally alive, not for anything they did, but for what they accepted from God. They were mirrors, magnifying the Word of God.
Most people, now and then, slumber. The fire of the witness, the word, and the being of the prophets terrifies them, forcing them to confront the evil within themselves and within others. They would rather not, as Plato said, love what is lovely and hate what is foul. They want to remain, neutral, lukewarm, tepid.
Indeed, it seems to be the case that it’s only in hindsight that the Prophets are respected—after all, the prophet is safely dead, and his prophecy has probably been tested. The test is in the past, and the immediacy of his or her words has long gone. In hindsight, all seems clear—those people, that culture, that nation, should have heeded the words of the prophet. After all, how could they not see with perfect vision the warning, staring them in the face? 2. For the sake of argument, let’s not take this passage from the Prophet Isaiah—the one quoted above—so literally. At least for a moment. Let’s enjoy a little abstraction. Or, at the least, let’s enjoy, here on The Imaginative Conservative, a little playful mysticism.
Some of us—the writers and readers of The Imaginative Conservative—will have had glimpses of the Supernatural in a way that can only be defined as a miracle. Some of us will not. And, some of us will have had them, but we failed to recognize them.
Each one of us is unique in time and space. Each one of us—from a Christian perspective—is a center of freedom and dignity, as we are all IMAGO DEI, made in the image of God. Not one of us is made without purpose. God is the Author of Life, He is the Origin, the Beginning, the only True Being. Each of us is a reflection of Him, fallen, and redeemed only (and I mean ONLY) through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. Not of us earned it—it is a gift freely and lovingly given.
Importantly each of us is made to do His Will. We are made to do His Good. Jesus gave us the example. He walked the earth, fully man and fully God. He ate with us, He talked with us, He taught us, He loved us and, and, holding out His arms as far as they would reach, He died for us.
He died for us. What does this mean? Especially if we think of Isaiahs’ verse: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”
By being made in the Image of God, we too are called to be extraordinary; we too are called to absolute excellence; we too are called to experience the love of Christ and to share it with those around us.
To love, to hope, to have faith. We are called to Witness. Not only are we to speak the Words of Christ, but we are to LIVE the Words of Christ.
When our neighbor is in trouble, we are to talk to him. And, when our neighbor sees us, he is to see us as a witness to the One who made and redeemed us. We are, in essence if not in reality, the face of Christ when we act in the world.
Through the Grace of God, the Incarnate Word becomes near to us. In this world, He can be found through our witness—through our words, our deeds, and even our thoughts.
This is an immense and glorious burden.
Christ was willing to be forsaken by all but one of His closest male friends. He was willing—as He proved in the agony of Gesemane—to do His Father’s will. He was willing to let those He created beat Him, whip Him, spit at Him, nail Him to a tree, stab Him in the side, and cast lots for His clothing. He was willing to endure Golgotha for one reason: LOVE, a love we never will deserve.
So, let’s ask—what are we willing to do for Him? Made in His Image, fallen, and then redeemed and gifted by Him and through Him alone, what are we willing to do?
3. Therefore, do not fight amongst yourselves, as St. Paul instructs us. Instead, learn from the differences we share. Learn from one another.
In the last century, 205 million persons—each made in the Image of Christ—was murdered by his government—in the Gulags, the Holocaust Camps, and the Killing Fields. Each one of those 205 million was unique and unrepeatable. Each, though flawed fallen , was uniquely gifted by God. Each had a purpose. And, each was murdered by the forces of the Anti-Christ.
While we bickered amongst ourselves—as Christians—the Enemy took possession of the Field. And, we have a great work to take it back.
We know that the blood of the martyrs—inspired by the blood of Christ and given the Grace to accept martyrdom—built the early church. Over 65% of all Christian martyrs in the history of Christianity were murdered in the last 100 years.
It hasn’t stopped. Simply because few call themselves fascists or communists anymore, doesn’t mean the killing has stopped. The line of martyrs continues.
What will their blood do? Nothing, if we continue to fight amongst ourselves.
Each of you is in a unique position to do God’s will. Each of us is in a unique position to help heal the divisions in the Body of Christ. We must learn from one another, forgive one another; and break bread with one another.
And, most importantly, we must remember that each of us is alive and redeemed only through the Blood of Christ. Love made us, love redeemed us, and love will take us into your eternal home.
We must make our lives extraordinary. Do not—I repeat—do not squander the gifts God gave to each one of us. They were not given for our earthly, materialistic benefit—but for His Benefit. For the Benefit of the Kingdom Come.
Be loving and be humble. Acknowledge Christ as King in all that you do, think, and say.
If one listens to Him, and we must, there’s a sense, of course, of real communion, real friendship, and of real possibilities of grace, of hope, and of love. Taking the Isaiah’s verse literally—we know He is near, and we know He is seeking us. He is attempting to wake us from our slumbers. But, there’s also something ominous and foreboding about Isaiah’s verse. It’s clear, at least by implication, that if we don’t seek the Lord while He is near, we may miss Him. As with all things beautiful, true, and good, our choice can end in eternal happiness or eternal sorrow.
In this, we have agency, if in little else.
Books on the topic discussed in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.