**From the Navarre Bible Commentary
First Reading - From: Isaiah 66:18-21
The nations in pilgrimage to Jerusalem
 For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory,  and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations.  And they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their cereal offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord.  And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord.
66:18-24. The book ends with a colophon, part in prose (vv. 18-21), part in verse (vv. 22-24). It begins by announcing that the glory of the Lord will be proclaimed to the nations, and they will respond by flocking in pilgrimage to the temple of the Lord.
Verses 18-21 are a sort of parallel to 2:2-4: both passages act as a kind of marker, one for the beginning and one for the end of the book. In other words, the exile in Babylon will come to be seen as divine punishment inflicted on the people for their sins, for their breaking the Covenant. There may be an oblique reference here to the expulsion of our first parents from the garden of Eden (Gen 1:23): Israel, too, was expelled from its land and from Zion, “the house of Jacob” (2:6). But God, in his mercy towards his people, will pardon them and have them come back to his “holy mountain”, Jerusalem (v. 20), and his gathering will also involve “all nations and tongues” (v. 18). This return to Zion is a sign that their transgression is totally forgiven. In some ways, the book of Isaiah is an (imperfect) anticipation and account of salvation history which runs right through the Bible, from the expulsion from Paradise (Gen 3:23), to the vision of the “heavenly Jerusalem”, in the “new heavens and the new earth” (v. 22 and Rev 21:1-27), at the centre of which will be found the “tree of life” (Rev 22:14).
Theodoret of Cyrus reads these words as an announcement of the universal salvation that stems from the Incarnation, and he comments that the prophet showed that Christ became “a slave not only to redeem the Jews but to bring salvation to all the nations” (Commentaria in Isaiam, 66, 18). The Second Letter to the Corinthians attributed to St Clement of Rome also sees v. 18 as an announcement of the Second Coming of our Lord: “I am coming to gather all nations and tongues: this verse prophesies the last day, when Christ will come again to reward each man according to his deeds” (Pseudo-Clement, Epistula II and Corinthios, 17, 4).
The nations mentioned in v. 19 are not easy to identify; but Tarshish is probably Spain; Put, Libya; Lud, Lydia; Tubal, Cilicia; and Javan, Ionia, Greece.
“And some of them also I will take for priests” (v. 21): this may mean (though one cannot be sure) that God will choose priests and Levites from among the pagans. Given the tenor of v. 22, it is more likely that “descendants” of Israel will hold the office of the holy priesthood; either interpretation fits in with the general newness and universalism that are a feature of chapters 65 and 66 (cf. 61:6).
The last oracle in the book of Isaiah is a call to an active, living hope (vv. 22-24). Verse 23, in its initial historical context, was addressed to the chosen people of the Old Testament, but it opens out to include all mankind; that is how the Fathers interpreted it. “There will be a new heaven and a new earth, where man will live forever united with God. Isaiah tells us that this new life will last forever: For as the new heavens and the new earth which I shall make shall remain before me, says the Lord; so shall your descendants and your name remain (Is 66:22)” (St Irenaeus of Lyons, Adversus haereses, 5, 36, 1).
Even so, a warning is issued about the punishment that awaits evildoers (v. 24). The harshness of the language here is in sharp contrast to the general tone of hope. The prophet may have chosen to strike this dark note in order to have the inhabitants of Zion (the saved) recognize God’s sovereignty over those who reject him and have them appreciate the blessings bestowed in Zion, that is, in heaven. Jesus uses the metaphor of the worm that does not die to describe the punishment earned by the grave sin of scandal (cf. Mk 9:48).