Last Sunday at Mass, we heard that we are called to proclaim “God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.” It seems to me that we do this in our homes, our convents, in our church gatherings and possibly with friends and acquaintances. This week, we hear Ezra and the priests on the platform proclaiming God’s Law to a huge gathering of men, women and children near the Water Gate. The once-exiled, newly-restored people were “bowed down” and weeping because they had not been following the Law of Moses. How wonderful it must have been for them to hear Ezra’s prayer lifting up his heart to our God who understands the language of all hearts. The people were told to feast, not to be sad because of the past. They heard the text and began rejoicing… the day was holy and they were free!
One might think that the second reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is the theological root of a popular saying: “None of us has it all together — but together we do have it all.” Though different, we are many in Christ, united in following God’s lead.
The Gospel presents Jesus as he returned to Galilee and went to the synagogue in Nazareth to pray. He stood, opened the scripture and proclaimed this beautiful text from the prophet Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor, … to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free….”
We in the family of Charity find this scripture passage profoundly meaningful as an expression of the mission we share with Jesus. Eight years ago, I remember hearing it during a Sunday Mass at a Charity Associates’ Weekend in Emmitsburg. Many of the Associates as well as the reader had tears in their eyes as it was proclaimed. It meant so much to all of us who live and work in hope that the dream of Jesus will be realized. As our own Elizabeth Seton said, “Hope, ever awake, whispers Mercy for the future, as sure as the past.”
Our church is celebrating a Jubilee of Mercy, announced on the 50th anniversary of the closing of Vatican II. That Council was primarily about sharing the eternal truths of the Church more effectively and applying them to a changing and challenging world. As our world continues to change, we believe with Pope Francis that “mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.”
Let us rejoice in the new life and renewed hope that we receive from hearing the Word of God, from sharing our diverse gifts, and from being missioned to our world — like Jesus — in the power of the Spirit.
–Peggy B Cekoric, SCNY Associate
Peggy B Cekoric is a wife, mother, and grandmother who formerly served as the first lay Director of Associates for the Sisters of Charity of New York.