I just read today's reading several times and I found great words buried in not only the subtext of the New Testament, but in the explicitness of the Old Testament readings.
The first reading if from Isaiah 58:9-14:
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.
How many of us can live what was just quoted through Isiah by GOD. The spoken word of the LORD states that if we can remove OPPRESSION, FALSE ACCUSATION and MALICIOUS TALK, and be able to witness to and help the afflicted and hungry, a light shall rise within and combat the darkness. But is it that easy. Can we follow this easily?
The road to righteousness is more difficult when we are constantly assailed by public opinion and our needs to fit in, with society, not within our Lords wishes. We find ourselves in a society that is easy to condemn our leaders, our friends, our family for their actions or their beliefs. I was brought up with a more open and caring attitude and for the most part, I like to think I am instilling that belief into my children. But even I tend to fall into malicious talk around the 'cooler' at work, or think badly of people at times. I don't like it, but recognize it as part of the human condition. Can we live without prejudice? Can we see a greater good to be accomplished and work towards that goal - looking at the derisive attitudes of my peers and how they act with concern to current political and social climates - I think we can, but it won't be without its difficulties.
But we should not stop trying to be better. Should not stop striving to live without judgment of others and live to lift up those that need it. Only then will GOD release within us his light of goodness and that light will grow to defeat the darkness that harbors inside of all of us.
The second reading is from the Gospel of Luke 5:27-32:
27After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, 28and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.29Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.30But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
31Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
I love this passage because it speaks volumes to not only the purpose of Jesus, but to his main audience. To put it into today's terms, Jesus was marketing his message towards the crowd that would garner or gain the most from his teachings. We would no sooner have a fund raiser for cancer research and market it towards the homeless community of San Jose - not that they are unimportant in any way, but that targeting a fund-raiser towards those with more means would garner more dollars for research. That is the cold-hard truth.
With that in mind, Jesus did not turn away the rich, or the priests, but he did focus on those who needed repentance within their lives. He targeted those most in need of his moral teachings. This theme is explored several times in the New Testament and is bolstered by a few key readings, especially the beatitudes where he compares those in need to those not in need.
We are human and although we will try to follow the teachings of Isaiah and be less judgmental, we will slip into our old attitudes like a soft rain coat on a cold morning. But we must shake off the rain and the cold and correct our ways. We must be vigilant in the Lord's teachings and follow the examples taught to us by Jesus Christ. Only then will the fullness of God's light be within us and the darkness will be defeated.