Monday, September 02, 2013

Caught Up Together

Monday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time 

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  Thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore, console one another with these words.  1 Thessalonians 4:17-18

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.  Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.  Luke 4:18-20

“Sing to the LORD a new song.”  Psalm 96:1

What is so new about the preaching of the Lord?  After all, he enters the temple and reads from Isaiah.  Isaiah preached nearly 800 years before the birth of Christ so what is so new about this treatment?
Glad you asked…what is so new about this old passage is not what Jesus said…but rather what he did NOT say.  In Isaiah 61:2, Jesus left off a key portion of this reading – “and a day of vindication by our God.”  The God that Jesus wants us to know is not a God with the human desire for vengeance on the Romans.  The God he introduces us to is a God of only love. Motivated by love, we will invite the poor into our lives just as Jesus invites us – who are poor – into His. 
The other difference is that God wants us to be close to him and He close to us. Rather than a distant God whom we cannot even call by name, Jesus introduces us to a God who wants to walk with us and have close moments of connection.  A God who does know our name from even before we were in the womb.
This manifesto also builds off the message of the Good News from Sunday’s Mass.  “…[W]hen you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.  For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  Luke 14:13-14
Finally, this is not only a God who wants us to do for others, but also a God who wants us to recognize that sometimes we are the poor, the captives, the blind and the oppressed.  When we reach out to others and when others reach out to us, we fulfill the promise made in that temple in Nazareth 2000 years ago…and the promise made by Isaiah almost 3 thousand years ago.

This song is so old that it is new.  But it can only be fulfilled if we hear what is said like the people in the temple so long ago. No one wants to be the last, the lowest or the least.  But, in taking up that position, we earn the widow’s “might.”  Not her coin but the strength of character that her humble generosity wields.
As we consider the work of our hands this Labor Day and throughout the remainder of this year, that “might” is not yielded with guns and Tomahawk missiles and nuclear submarines and f-14 jets.  But the moral strength of our argument made manifest in how we live out the Nazareth manifesto will help us reign.  Then, we can be caught up together with the Lord in following His words and work.  

Only we can bring glad tidings to the poor of Haiti, Cameroon, Honduras and Harper's Ferry.
Only we can proclaim liberty to captives of the ideas and actions that created Auschwitz, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Leavenworth and Buckingham.
Only we can help people see beyond the riches, “affluenza” and entertainment that blind them to the world.
Only we can help those oppressed by drugs, gangs, alcohol, and addictions go free.
When we do that in our piety, study and action, we get caught up with the Holy Spirit and proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. 

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