In today’s readings it struck me that the first reading from Isaiah and the Gospel were almost duplicates – humorously I noted to Fr. David that Jesus plagiarized Isaiah. Of course, as Fr. David pointed out, it can’t be plagiarism since Isaiah was Christ’s mouthpiece. But it does strike me at how similar the words are – and yet different. Throughout the bible we see the same type similarities between the Old Testament prophecies and Christ’s parables and teachings – just not as obvious as today’s pair.
As I reflected on these readings this week two aspects of this seemingly repetitive message came out.
- Mankind is very dense when it comes to what is good for them. Freewill has enabled mankind to turn to what seems easy and fun and away from what is right and good. But, more importantly, and because of that.
- God’s message is eternal, but its delivery is a constantly changing process to better relate to the times and people.
This is very good news – God is constantly trying to evangelize His flock. He has done so since the fall in Garden of Eden. He brings His creation the good news of Himself and what it means to be in relationship with Him. He has done so through the prophets, the judges, the kings. He brought it to its fullness through His Son Jesus Christ; the Eternal Word. He continued, and continues, to bring the message through the apostles and their successors the bishops, and his continuing message shines through the ages with His saints – both known and unknown and most clearly through our Blessed Mother and her apparitions. And most importantly for us – His message should continue by coming through us!
But how? How are we to go out and evangelize those we encounter? Words don’t suffice, words don’t convince, truly convince – even the Word Himself didn’t rely on His words only. The other day I heard Archbishop Wenski, of Miami Florida, point this out in a very poignant way, he said (and I paraphrase) Christ didn’t bring the Good News to those He met by first introducing them to the cross, He introduced the Gospel by His words and His actions first – the Cross came later.
Actions, love, concern, joy, something people can see, feel, and desire – this is what brings weight to the Gospel message. God knows that eternal truth needs continual witnessing, needs to be lived within the society and times of humanity. He knows that what was written or spoken or lived in Gaul of the 900s will not resonate with the people of England of 1500s or China of the 1980s or with us right now. Our Heavenly Father depends on us and our lives to continue the Good News. We, in turn need to rely on His eternal truth to live our lives, and in so doing bring this eternal message to those around us in methods and way relatable to our times and culture. How?
St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians, that we heard today, gives us valuable insight into how. He urges us to look for ‘whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.’
In short keep in touch with God through prayer and holy reading, keep His truths ever in our hearts and minds. When we do we will know it because of the peace that it brings. A peace that will enable us to live the witness and bring those we witness to, to the great joy of the Cross.