Does our first reading sound familiar? “I, the Lord, have called you for a victory of justice…to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.” (cf. Isaiah 42:6-9)
It reminds us of the familiar passage read during the Christmas season, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” (cf. Isaiah 9:1-6) And the passage from chapter 61 of Isaiah comes to mind, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.” (cf. Isaiah 61:1-3)
Christian tradition has seen these passages fulfilled in Jesus. But have they really been fulfilled? There are still people among us who are blind, walking in darkness. There are still prisoners confined to dungeons, waiting for release. There has yet to be achieved a “victory of justice.”
Maybe we can make a similar application of the words of St. Paul to the Colossians. He writes, “in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…” (Colossians 1:24) We, the Body of Christ, are called to “fill up what is lacking,” to continue working for the victory of justice that was begun in Jesus.
In his short lifetime on earth Jesus could not do everything but he did do something. None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something. Jesus spelled out the course. Jesus set the pace. Now we, by our words, our actions and our enthusiasm are to be Christ in action today. We are to give light to those living in ignorance and fear. We are to help free those shackled by selfishness and sin. We are to wipe out oppression with the power of love.
If the task seems intimidating, we find our strength in today’s Psalm response, “The Lord is my hope and my salvation; whom should I fear.” (Psalm 27:1) Let’s do it.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/