Sunday, April 09, 2017

A Light for the Nations

Photo by Philip Russell (Facebook: April 9, 2017)
Monday of Holy Week

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
Isaiah 42:6-7

"Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days' wages
and given to the poor?"
He said this not because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, "Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."
John 12:5-8


What if God was beyond my constrained Imagination

Not limited by lofty words of mindful expression
Nor kept in a guarded box of theological debate
But free to roam amongst the slightest doubts and strongest fears

That come from the hearts and minds of all
Across the expanse of a multi-tiered Multiverse
What if God whispered to children and prophets alike
And found expression in the butterfly as well as the pen

Would not the butterfly express the divine best
By Dancing about in its three-dimensional and holy form
Far clearer than a pen which can only illuminate
A dimension or two at best before stopping where the paper ends

What if God was found in that pen as well
Enlightening far more than acid-free paper with lead
But supple minds that can transcend our three-dimensional prison
Into the far-off limits of our cosmic creation

What if God was found beyond our limitations
Hiding not only in the fields of what is known
But in the trenches of guesses and shadows
Of what we think we comprehend

Is God then to be found in our rigid ideologies
Surrounded by deep moats and mossy walls of unyielding belief
That keep God tame to our mind’s imagination
And protects our Orthodoxy from severance or breach

Perhaps God is Only found beyond my rocky walls and muddy moats
Out in the vast and forbidden fields of the Unknown
Where pilgrims stop for fear of life and death
And the sea monsters and dragons of our past still roam

Jonathan Hill

Maryknoll Seminarian
7 April 2014

There is a sense of justice pervading our readings this week. Yesterday, we witnessed the triumphant ride that Jesus made into Jerusalem only to be followed within day with the injustice of his execution.

The notes in the New American Bible connected to our first reading from Isaiah tell us that the Hebrew word for “justice” (sedeq) has multiple connotations. In Isaiah it relates to the saving victory that the Lord will give for the deliverance of his people Israel. That was the justice that the people were still awaiting when Jesus came along. Thinking him the King, led to the entry parade. This word is equated with “deliverance” and “salvation” as well as “victory.”

Isaiah here treats justice as the macro level for the nation of Israel. Yet, he moves it to the personal level. We are called to be “a light for the nations, To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness."

As we move to the Gospel, justice continues to be rooted in the personal level. We move to both the community level (serving the poor) and the individual level (doing the spiritual works of mercy when Jesus must be buried).

How does justice play out in our lives? The first reading strongly parallels the Nazareth manifesto in which we are challenged to have our faith spur us onward to do good works. In this holiest of weeks, Jesus asks us to reflect on the kind of shallow action Judas advocates. Is our action for the poor an outgrowth of our faith commitment? Otherwise, it is a hollow social behavior, still good, yet without the depth that Christ asks.

The “servant” from Isaiah can be both the individual and the community. The mission remains the same. If Jesus is to continue to establish justice, the job is in our hands now. This justice was beyond Judas’ constrained imagination.  It does not have to be beyond ours.

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