Saturday, February 25, 2012

Finding The Help We Need

" shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.

If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
if you call the sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honourable;
if you honour it, not going your own ways,
serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." (Isaiah 58:9b-14)

The whole Lenten season is a sort of renewed crying out to God for help. How consoling to know that God's reply, year after year, is always the same: "Here I am." Notice that God doesn't just leave it at that, however. Some very specific suggestions are offered in order that the darkness of our mind and spirit can be enlightened, that a map of the way forward can be given to guide us, that God can "satisfy our needs" and strengthen us, and that in the whole process we can be refreshed, renewed.

The suggestions?? Seeing to it that other peoples' burdens are lightened. Sharing food with those who are hungry. Addressing and dealing with the issues of those who are suffering. Eugene Peterson, in his paraphrase The Message, puts it more graphically: "...get[ting] rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people's sins,...refusing 'business as usual', making money, running here and there..." God stresses that the key to being able to act on these suggestions is learning how to be selfless, learning how to rise above self-interest, "not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs..."

If, out of the depths of our need for help, we can accept God's grace, we'll become (again, in Peterson's translation) repairers of the breach between God and humanity, "restorer[s] of the streets", "those who can fix anything...[those who can] make the community livable again...Then you'll be free to enjoy God!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fr. Harry+

Fr. JJ reminded me of how blessed this site I am back-reading. Thank you. I shall seek your wisdom in this blog more frequently. Blessings and peace and love to you my brother. Kep up this IS a blessing.

Brenda ObJN