“On this holy mountain the Lord of hosts will provide…” So begins our first reading this Sunday. Going up on mountains was considered getting closer to God. Believing the world to be flat with God or gods being up above controlling everything, it is understandable that people in all cultures and religions went up on mountains to communicate with their gods. Where no natural mountains existed, people built ziggurats in Mesopotamia and pyramids in Egypt, the Americas and many other locations around the world. The mountain in this first reading is Mount Zion, the mountain on which the Jewish Temple was constructed, in Jerusalem. It was a symbol of the heavenly Jerusalem, a perfect city of complete unity between God and his people.
The first reading promises that on this mountain God would destroy “the shroud that is cast over all mountains.” This shroud, or pall, could be interpreted as the curse of death which hangs over all peoples. But it could also be interpreted as the attitudes which focus on our differences in ethnic, religious and national backgrounds and tend to divide us in this world. The prophet Isaiah foresees a time when that shroud which keeps us from seeing things as they really are will be lifted, and people will no longer be caught up in separation and competition among groups. The invitation to the great feast contained in this passage will be open to people of all nations.