Isaiah’s images of the barren, deserted, and childless wife, and the wife who has both a husband and children, can be understood as images reflecting the work of grace in the case of the former, and unaided human effort in the case of the latter. However, the now more numerous children of the formerly barren and deserted one who did not bear, are the fruit and outcome of a long and painful journey. And in the course of this journey, she experienced the temporary abandonment by the Lord who in an outburst of wrath hid his face from her. This was not, however, punishment but correction and the means of exposing her helplessness and hopelessness apart from the Lord. And, having been humbled and confronted with her poverty and sinfulness, her heart was opened to the enduring love of the Lord by which he took pity on her. The tax collectors described in today’s gospel as listening to John and acknowledging the righteousness of God underwent a similar descent into their inner poverty and hopelessness apart from God and their hearts, too, were opened to the saving love of the Lord. Each one of us must make this selfsame journey and experience—for a time—the Lord abandonment of us as he hides his face so that we may come to our senses, abandon our pride and distrust, and cast ourselves, once again, upon the enduring love and mercy of the Lord. For even though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, his love shall never leave us, nor his covenant of peace be shaken.