Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-1; Luke 1:46-50, 53-54; 1 Thess. 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28
I prayed for the Holy Spirit to enlighten me before I read this Sunday’s scripture readings. Then I read and underlined the sentences. In the first three readings, I underlined almost every sentence. As I thought, I almost rose from my chair. My mind exploded and my heart was burning with amazement and love for God. Our Father sent his Son into the world to be with us and that we could see and be with Him more fully. Once Jesus came to earth, He has never left us. So let us look at this joy. Take your Bible and find the texts and prayerfully read and underline what stands out for you.
As Jesus began his public ministry people asked him who he was. Jesus answered, quoting this passage from Isaiah 61: "The Spirit of the Lord …has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor…. I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in My God is the joy of my soul." The response to Isaiah is from St. Luke’s gospel where Mary says: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." St. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians, "Rejoice always. Pray" much. (We really can’t pray 24 x 7; there are some other things we much do to stay live.) "In all circumstances give thanks."
The alleluia verse tells us: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor." Alleluia! The gospel of St. John quotes John the Baptist as saying that he is not the Messiah but merely, "the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord." He was quoting Isaiah the prophet.
Does your mind leap for joy? If you are baptized and remain in the state of God’s grace, you are saved by the death of Jesus. God chooses to live inside of you. Hello? Do you realize that? Then what is the conclusion? We are filled with much grace. What do we do with it? Go out; proclaim as did John the Baptist. As an evangelist, I am a lowly voice crying out from these Allegheny hills, "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!"
Once Jesus came to our earth almost 2,000 years ago, He has never left. Where 2 or 3 gather to pray, He is there. His Eucharistic presence is in the golden tabernacle in all of the ancient churches. He is "born again" every day during the second part of the Eucharistic Liturgy (Mass) when the priest says, what Jesus said at the Last Supper, "this is my body." So Jesus offers us his spiritual food every day all over the world. He gives us "our daily bread." Remember what we say in the "Our Father." Are you excited? You should be! What an awesome gift we have in the ongoing presence of Jesus each day. Emmanuel, God is with us. (Matthew 1:23) What a great God we have.
Now we have a responsibility to announce this "Good News," to those around us. We are to glow with his love and joy. Jesus told us in Matthew 11:28: "Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you." Let us go forth confident that his Holy Spirit will anoint us to go out into the world radiating Christ’s light and love. He will give us the words to tell others about these wonderful gifts.
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2014 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)