Thus says the LORD:
If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday. -Isaiah 58:9-10
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners. -Luke 5:32
Have you ever noticed how God gives us very clear instructions on how He would like us to act towards each other? It’s not like these instructions are hidden in some obscure, esoteric text, requiring years of study to just begin to understand them. No, it would be hard even for God to put His desires in plainer language than what we find in the reading from Isaiah today: ‘Stop harming each other, take care of those less fortunate.’
And yet, we continue to miss the mark. Somehow, we interpret God’s word to mean we need to perform elaborate rituals, wear certain vestments, say certain incantations to gain His favor. While these actions all help us to open to and receive God’s love, are they all that God desires? What does He say in return? Love one another, as I love you. He shows His love by sending His own Son, who continues to preach this simple message.
In the Gospel today, Jesus reminds us that he came to reach those who miss the mark. Another interpretation of the above quote could be, “I have not come to call those who already believe they are righteous, but to call those who know they need help.” While it might be hard to admit that we have failed in what God calls us to do, that is the first step in the repentance that Jesus preaches.
My prayer today is that I have the ears to hear God’s simple message and the will to carry it out.
In addition to being an independent teacher (now online!), Talib Huff is on the retreat team at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center In Citrus Heights, California. You can contact him at [email protected].