In today’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims the “good news” to the poor. Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth, unrolled the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and found the place where it was written. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
In history, apparently, the meaning of “poor” to the people of Israel at that time was “for those who know their need for God”. It wasn’t a matter of who had money or who didn’t have money. It wasn’t a matter of who was rich and who was poor. Money and poverty have nothing to do with each other in the gospel reading. One is rich when one is filled with the joy and happiness of life. To be rich is to be full of life and this is what Jesus brings us. He is going to bring us the fullness of life. That is also what is meant when it is said that He will bring recovery of sight to the blind. Because in our ways and means, we go through life looking for its meaning, a purpose for us. At times we lose focus on what we really should be trying to achieve to be content. That day in Nazareth, Jesus said, “You will find me for I am the richness of life. I am the Son of God.”
Pope Francis has stated, “Dear brothers and sisters, let us make room inside ourselves for the word of God. Each day, let us read a verse or two of the Bible. Let us begin with the Gospel: let us keep it open on our table, carry it in your pocket or bag, read it on our cell phones, and allow it to inspire us daily. We will discover that God is close to us, that He dispels our darkness and, with great love, leads our lives into deep waters.”
In day-to-day situations we can apply the gospel values like honesty, forgiveness, justice, caring for the needy. Henri Nouwen stated, “Our humanity comes to its fullest bloom in giving. We become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life….all of our life.” We, as followers of Jesus, are pursuing the mission of the Gospel. We NEED GOOD NEWS…today, more than ever.
In preparing for this reflection, I found this story.
A priest and soap-maker were out walking together. The soap-maker said cynically, “What good is religion? Look at all the trouble and misery in the world after thousands of years of teaching about goodness, truth and peace – after all the prayers, homilies and teachings.”
The priest said nothing. They continued walking until they noticed children playing in a muddy canal. Then the priest said, “Look at those kids. You say that soap makes people clean, but see the dirt on those youngsters? Of what good is your soap? With all the soap in the world, these children are still dirty. I wonder how soap is effective at all.”
The soap maker got peeved and protested, “But Father, you ought to know that soap can’t do any good unless it is used!”
“Ah exactly,” replied the priest. “So it is with Christianity and its teachings. They are ineffective unless they are applied and put into practice.”
By reading from Scripture, listening to sermons given at Mass, we experience the Word of God. We can ask ourselves, “What is Jesus going to say to me today.” How can I apply what I read/hear in practical terms? When people see us practising our faith, filled with love and reaching out in love, making our community a community of love, people begin to understand who God is and that’s the witness that we give…. practising the “Good News”.