Scripture: Lectionary # 382: Isaiah 66:10-14. Psalm 66:1-3,4-5, 6-7.16.20. Galatians 6:14-18. Luke 1:1-12, 17-20.
In a favorite prayer of mine which I have in German above my computer the following words are right on target for the readings of this Sunday. They are words that are not only comforting but oh so true. They deal with the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives, “may we ever rejoice in your holy comfort. Amen.” These concluding words of the prayer are a summary of what the readings are telling us this Sunday. We are to be people filled with joy (rejoicing), peace, and exultation. Happiness is the easiest word to capture the tone of the Scriptures for this day. They act almost like the Gaudete and Laetare readings during Advent and Lent which convey the meaning of rejoice and be joyful and happy.
We need such Scripture passages to motivate us and to enable us to persevere with great patience amidst the sufferings we experience and see others undergoing. These Scriptures help us to face the Monday and the rest of the week that happens after Sunday, the Lord’s Day.
Chapters 55-66 of the Third Isaiah (Trito Isaiah) are passages of joy, comfort, promise of happiness and success, exultation, peace, and comfort. We enter into the selection with the great image of a mother nursing and cradling her child while bringing comfort and rest to the little one. This reflects God’s concern for Chosen Israel after the harrowing Exodus and later after the Exile. We easily can apply the image to our own Church and its glaring needs for comfort after so many faults and weaknesses that the Church has caused even from those who were to be its pastors and spiritual guides. Our world needs this passage to overcome its wounds of war, selfishness, violence, hunger, homelessness, and terrorism.
As is often, our psalm is a perfect prayer reflection that makes it easier for us to enjoy the readings. It is the glue of the chosen texts that helps us make them prayerful and not just an exercise in analyzing them or critiquing the homily of someone. We therefore shout out in prayer, “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy…how tremendous are God’s deeds.”
Paul is a person of passion and among the passions he has is the gift of rejoicing in the Lord and joy. He is happy that he has become a new creation in Christ and wants us to imitate him in this transforming experience of Jesus in his life. Peace and mercy flow from his union with Christ even in the midst of the paradox of the Cross. He prays that we may all have the same Spirit in our hearts.
Jesus sends out almost all of his disciples on a mission to preach, exorcise, teach, and heal—all seventy or seventy two of them. They return rejoicing at their success on this apostolic mission. They have brought healing and peace to many whom they have visited and told, “Peace be to this house.” Indeed, the reign of God is present and felt among those visited by them. The Gospel they preach is Good News and they are compelled to share it with others. Upon returning and telling Jesus about their work, he admires their joy and enthusiasm and tells them they should be even more jubilant because their names are already written in heaven.
What about us as we listen and read these wonderful Scriptures? Are we bearers of Good News to others? Do we call upon the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of joy, peace, and love to help us as we approach a new week? Can we learn from St. Paul how the Cross can be a saving instrument in our lives? Can we boast and by joyful in carrying the cross that Jesus has given us this past week and those crosses that may come this coming week?
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with joy, love, and peace. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.