Love and Zeal

First Reading: Isaiah 45:6-8, 18, 21-25
Psalm: Psalm 85:9-14
Gospel: Luke 7:18-23

Today’s first reading is from second Isaiah. In it the prophet is
speaking to the people of Judah who are in exile in a foreign land.
He encourages them, though hope seems to them a chimera, with a
prophecy of deliverance and salvation. Yahweh, the all-powerful
God, loves them and is their Savior.
In the gospel it would seem John the Baptist doubted whether Jesus
really was the promised Messiah. Why the doubts? The common
expectation among the people, which John shared, was that the
Messiah would come in great power. He would pronounce a wrathful
judgment on sinners and on the enemies of the Jewish nation. But
here was John, the forerunner of the Messiah, in prison, and Jesus
was doing nothing at all. Instead of condemning sinners, he sat at
table, eating and drinking with them, and there was no indication
that he had any interest whatsoever in delivering Israel from Roman
occupation. Jesus, in John’s eyes, was the opposite of what John
expected in the Messiah.
In reply to John, Jesus quotes Isaiah in what the Church has always
recognized as a Messianic prophecy. “Report to John,” Jesus tells
John’s disciples, “what you have seen and heard: the blind recover
their sight, cripples walk, the deaf hear, dead men are raised to
life, and the poor have the good news preached to them.”
It’s necessary that we reexamine very carefully our image of God,
our image of Jesus, our image of the Church. Love, mercy,
compassion, kindness, and forgiveness: these are the attributes that
describe both God our Father, and Jesus. And these are the
attributes, which should describe the Church and each one of us.
With his compassionate love, God wills the salvation of all men and
women. His compassionate love was made manifest to the world in
joyful fashion on the first Christmas.
“Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires.
Your Spirit brings us grace, truth, life, and freedom. Fill me with
the joy of the gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for
you and for your will”.