There has been little to rejoice about lately, as financial crises and unemployment shatter the economies of nations, families, and individuals.
But today’s first reading, from the beginning of Isaiah 61 (vv. 1-2a, 10-11) reminds us of that fundamental message of faith which would be spoken by our Lord Himself in the synagogue at Nazareth:
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.
(continuing a verse or so – vv. 3-4c – further in the chapter)
To place on those who mourn in Zion
a diadem instead of ashes,
To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning,
a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit.
They will be called oaks of justice,
planted by the LORD to show his glory.
They shall rebuild the ancient ruins,
the former wastes they shall raise up
And restore the ruined cities...
This is our message as a Church,
as followers and instruments
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
a message of hope for ourselves
and a mandate for us
to share that message
to a world that desperately needs it.