We, the poor, the imprisoned, the blind and the oppressed

An elderly couple was driving across the country. While the woman was behind the wheel, the couple was pulled over by the highway patrol. "Ma'am, did you know you were speeding?" the officer said. The woman, hard of hearing, turned to her husband and asked, "What did he say?" "He said you were speeding!" the old man yelled. The cop then asked, "May I see your license?" The woman turned to her husband again, "What did he say?" The old man yelled back, "He wants to see your license!"

The woman then gave the officer her license. "I see you are from New Jersey," the officer said. "I spent some time there once and went on a blind date with the ugliest woman I've ever seen." The woman turned to her husband again and asked, "What did he say?" The old man replied, "He said he knows you!"

Like the people in the synagogue at that time, we have heard for so many times what Jesus proclaimed in the Gospel today. All eyes were looking intently at him. They were interested in what Jesus had to say.

Jesus said that the Good News is fulfilled in their hearing. He singled out four entities that had been marginalized and neglected: the poor, the imprisoned, the blind and the oppressed. They may not be as marginalized and neglected now. But if we also listen intently, the fulfillment of the Good News depends on our response to those who are poor, imprisoned, blinded and oppressed in our times.

Who are the poor in our midst? The poor we meet today include not only those who are in the lower fringes of society but also those without inner satisfaction. The poor we meet today include not only those who lack material necessities but also those without inner peace. The poor we meet today include not only those who fail to satisfy their basic needs but also those without inner joy.

How do we let the poor know that God is calling them? By telling them about Jesus. The priest Ezra explained the Word. Jesus is the Explanation. We will never find inner peace, joy and satisfaction in this temporal world if we are looking for peace, joy and happiness in the wrong places.

If we are one of those whose faces are glum and saddened by family problems, broken marriages and unrealized expectations, remember the Good News that was proclaimed. Jesus was referring to us, the poor and the imprisoned.

Who are the imprisoned in our times? The imprisoned are not only those in prison cells but also those held captive by their own addictions and insecurities. The imprisoned are not only those encaged brought by the judicial system but also those held chained by their own fears and anxieties. The imprisoned are not only those who are confined in space as punishment for their deeds but also those who are tied to their selfishness and arrogance.

How do we let the imprisoned know that God is challenging them? By showing them Jesus. The priest Ezra interpreted the Word. Jesus is the Interpretation. We will never be freed from our insecurities, fears and selfishness unless we open our eyes to the reality before us.

If we are one of those who find life so heavy that we blame others for our own misdeeds, if we are one of those who find life so dark that we blame our past forsaking our future, if we are one of those who find life so dreary that we blame God for what we have lost and lived our lives with regrets, remember the Good News that was proclaimed. Jesus was referring to us, the imprisoned and the blind.

Who are the blind in our lives? The blind are not only those who lack physical sight but also those who fail to see their own human potentials. The blind are not only those who cannot see but also those who do not want to see and accept reality. The blind are not only those who find no vision but also those who are lacking in ambition.

How do we let the blind know that God is pointing at them? By guiding them to Jesus. The priest Ezra proclaimed the Word. Jesus is the Proclamation. We will never see the goodness of others unless we acknowledge the generosity of God. We will never acknowledge the kindness of God unless we humble ourselves before Him. And, we will never see our own goodness until we share in the goodness of others.

If we are one of those who often blame people for our mistakes, if we are one of those who wish evil things to happen to people we envy and are jealous of, if we are one of those who are prejudiced and judgmental about race, language and religion, remember the Good News that was proclaimed. Jesus was referring to us, the blind and the oppressed.

Who are the oppressed among us? The oppressed are not only those held down by injustice but also those who are abused by their own past. The oppressed are not only those brought down by society but also those dragged along by false hopes and promises. The oppressed are not only those who had fallen by the wayside but also those who are not willing, not wanting to hear, listen and be the Good News.

Jesus came for us, the poor, the blind, the imprisoned and the oppressed. We heard this Gospel before. How did we respond to it? And to paraphrase what the husband said to the wife who was hard of hearing, “Jesus said He knows you do.”


24 January 2010

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