Monday, February 07, 2011

Isaiah's Words -- the Essential Calling

Here's the first reading from mass yesterday, which was the fifth Sunday in ordinary time.  It's from the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah.
Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
If you remove from your midst
oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;
if you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday.
Some days, the church seems to wander from the central, core mission that Isaiah sets out in this passage.  More specifically, at times the Roman Catholic church seems to view its core mission as keeping women out of positions of authority within the church; fighting the right of same-sex couples to enter into long-term, legally recognized, committed marriages; getting lawsuits tossed rather than recognizing the rights of the oppressed.

But there are times--lots of moments: small, quiet moments which don't receive much publicity and which are often best kept private--when people within the church (people within every faith tradition, really) do what Isaiah describes.  Thank God for those moments.  May there be more of them.  May each of us remember why God put us on this earth.  May we be open to serving God's will by serving the needs of those around us.  That calling--a calling given to each woman, man, and child in the church--is so much more important than the latest arcane decision from the Roman Curia, so much more essential to what it means to be a good Christian (or Jew, or Muslim--or, for that matter, a good Buddhist).

What is described in this reading is what I need to keep my eyes on this day, this week.  Through the grace of God, may I rise to the occasion.

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