Saturday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved in whom I delight;
I shall place my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not contend or cry out,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory.
And in his name the Gentiles will hope.
In describing the scene where the Pharisee’s drive Jesus out of town, the gospel writer uses Isaiah to describe what might what he considered one of Jesus’s mission statements and that is to proclaim Gods justice to all people. Within that statement is one of the reasons that Jesus was driven out by the Pharisees. It was at that time the high priests that acted at mediator between God and man. If man wanted Gods intercession, it was the temple priest that was the one that brokered that transaction. The second transgression that Jesus made was bringing that message of their Gods justice to an unclean people, the gentiles. The Pharisees were an insulated group that considered God to be accessible to only a select few. “Bruised reeds, and smoldering wicks”, those unfortunate enough to be on the down and out were the fringes of society who the Pharisees viewed as cursed by God. For a beggar to be begging was due to that person’s offense to God.
In this day and age Christians know that God is accessible to all, that we all are Gods children. The question now then is how we as Christians go about bringing that Gods justice and mercy and charity to those bruised reeds and smoldering wicks, to those injured or near death, bodily or spiritual. There are so many bruised and smoldering throughout this world, and with modern communications that world view has greatly expanded. One hand there is bringing that message by way of the fiery preacher, on the other there is Saint Francis “bring the gospel to everyone, and if you have to preach.” That is, to put it another way, bring that justice of God through actions. I think of this in today’s world, especially in those troubled holy lands that Jesus walked through. It is not to bring that justice to only the Jew or only to the Gentile; but to all. That justice is extended to Christians, Muslims, Jews, and to those small groups frequently not mentioned. It today’s world that comes through dialogue on universal justice to all, it also comes through relief delivered to those war torn people through food and shelter and water. Dialogue to revive smoldering spirits and material relief for bruised bodies. Of course this is looking for the injured in faraway places, and there typically is not much need to travel far to find someone in need of Christ’s message. I am certain one can be met every day. Those locals down on their luck. Those struggling to meet their daily needs through inadequate employment. Those trapped in addiction. Those overburdened in labor, those suffering through a spiritual or emotional crisis, those trapped in degrading bodies. All are Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks awaiting Gods justice. There is no need to preach.