For the Church

“Take courage, my people, constant reminder of Israel. You were sold to the nations, but not for extermination. You provoked God; and so were delivered to your enemies, since you had angered your creator by offering sacrifices to demons, not to God. You had forgotten the eternal God who reared you. You had also grieved Jerusalem who nursed you, for when she saw the anger fall on you from God, she said: Listen, you neighbours of Zion: God has sent me great sorrow.

“I have seen my sons and daughters taken into captivity, to which they have been sentenced by the Eternal. I had reared them joyfully; in tears, in sorrow, I watched them go away. Do not, any of you, exult over me, a widow, deserted by so many; I suffer loneliness because of the sins of my own children, who turned away from the Law of God, who did not want to know his injunctions, and would not follow the ways of his precepts, or tread the paths of discipline as his justice directed. Let them come here, those neighbours of Zion. Let me remind you of the captivity of my sons and daughters to which they have been sentenced by the Eternal: how he brought a distant nation down on them, a ruthless nation speaking a foreign language, having neither respect for the aged, nor pity for the child; they carried off the widow’s cherished sons, they left her quite alone, bereft of her daughters.

“For my part, how can I help you? He who brought those disasters down on you, he is the one to deliver you from the hands of your enemies. Go, my children, go your way! I must stay bereft and lonely; I have taken off the clothes of peacetime, and put on the sackcloth of entreaty; I will cry to the Eternal all my life. Take courage, my children, call on God: he will deliver you from tyranny, from the hands of your enemies; for I look to the Eternal for your rescue, and joy has come to me from the Holy One at the mercy soon to reach you from your saviour, the Eternal. In sorrow and tears I watched you go away, but God will give you back to me in joy and gladness for ever.

“As the neighbours of Zion now witness your captivity, so will they soon see you rescued by God, who will intervene, in the great glory and splendour of the Eternal. My children, patiently bear the anger brought on you by God. Your enemy has persecuted you, but soon you will witness his destruction and set your foot on his neck. My favourite children have travelled by rough roads, carried off like a flock by a marauding enemy. Take courage, my children, call on God: he who brought disaster on you will remember you. As by your will you first strayed away from God, so now turn back and search for him ten times as hard; for as he brought down those disasters on you, so will he rescue you and give you eternal joy.

“Take courage, Jerusalem: he who gave you that name will console you. Trouble will come to all who have ill-treated you and gloated over your fall. Trouble will come, to the cities where your children were slaves; trouble will come to the city which received your sons, for just as she rejoiced at your fall and was happy to see you ruined, so shall she grieve over her own desolation. I will deprive her of that joy known to populous cities, her boasting shall be turned into mourning, fire from the Eternal will burn in her for many a day and demons will dwell in her for ages. Jerusalem, turn your eyes to the east, see the joy that is coming to you from God. Look, the sons you watched go away are on their way home; reassembled from east and west, they are on their way home at the command of the Holy One, jubilant at the glory of God.

“Jerusalem, take off your dress of sorrow and distress, put on the beauty of the glory of God for ever, wrap the cloak of the integrity of God around you, put the diadem of the glory of the Eternal on your head: since God means to show your splendour to every nation under heaven, since the name God gives you for ever will be, ‘Peace through integrity, and honour through devotedness’. Arise, Jerusalem, stand on the heights and turn your eyes to the east: see your sons reassembled from west and east at the command of the Holy One, jubilant that God has remembered them. Though they left you on foot, with enemies for an escort, now God brings them back to you like royal princes carried back in glory. For God has decreed the flattening of each high mountain, of the everlasting hills, the filling of the valleys to make the ground level so that Israel can walk in safety under the glory of God. And the forests and every fragrant tree will provide shade for Israel at the command of God; for God will guide Israel in joy by the light of his glory with his mercy and integrity for escort.” (Ba 4:5-5:9).