The first reading from Isaiah 66 is characterized by many feminine images. Referring to God and Jerusalem and the people are envisioned as a mother giving birth and nursing her children. These poetic images of hope were important for a people returning from sixty years of exile in Babylon. What does this say to you today?

God in Third Isaiah is a woman, a mother. Does that touch your heart? Does it help you meet God in your daily experience? The message of Isaiah is that of comfort and consolationgifts, St. Ignatius says, God gives to us, gifts we should look for in our prayer.

This is the Fourth of July weekend. Can anything Third Isaiah says help us as a nation this Fourth of July? The image of God’s warm, motherly love might take us back to Abraham Lincoln’s post-Civil War hope that we find and embrace “our better angels.” That hope of Lincoln’s and those angels can work now in the practical ways we listen to each other, discuss and differ with each other, but at the same time come to respect each other. When he addressed the United States Congress, Pope Francis gave us another image that fits herethat of the “common good.” Our good for all of us is not for one part or group because we are all part of one another.

—Fr. Jim Dixon, S.J. serves as chaplain to the Ignatian Volunteer Corps and is Superior of the Woodlawn Jesuit Residence, Chicago IL.