Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Holiday for eternity

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21

...He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Imagine worldly liberation being declared right then and there.
It is an astounding message, even as it promptly makes its hearers skeptical of the bearer: "Isn't he the son of Joseph?".

In the third chapter of "Jesus of Nazareth", Pope Benedict XVI writes:

The core content of the Gospel [the evangelium] is this: The Kingdom of God is at hand. A milestone is set up in the flow of time; something new takes place.
And an answer to this gift is demanded of man: conversion and faith. The center of this announcement is the message that God's Kingdom is at hand. This announcement is the actual core of Jesus' words and works.

Conversion and Faith. No wonder the message of the Gospel is very difficult to internalize then and now. The thing is, I am always amazed for example, by the very rich people who continue amass unnecessary power and wealth by unscrupulous, violent means. As the law is written in the heart of every man, why then is there unbridled selfishness and greed that trample upon universally understood norms, even as nothing really compels? Where is the motivation?

C.S. Lewis has an idea in the "Weight of Glory":

If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he
cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.

And may I add, the holiday package is free, and the ticket is good now and forever.

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