First Reading: Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
though they have been deserted for many generations.
“For I, the Lord, love justice.
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be recognized
and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
the Lord has blessed.”
I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding
or a bride with her jewels.
The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
with plants springing up everywhere. (NLT)
Jesus: Good News to the Poor
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus recited the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue to proclaim his mission on earth: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.” Recently I have embarked on a study to find out how non-white, uneducated women living in poor communities in Brazil understand, interpret, and live out the Gospel. Some of these women are my friends, and one is even my student. These women have dedicated their lives to Christ, yet they face daily challenges just for life basics for themselves and their families. Society has marginalized them, treating them as less human. They experience the violence of living in dangerous neighborhoods, and one lost her only son to drugs. The reality of life is a struggle to survive. And I find myself asking, what exactly is the good news that Jesus brought for these women? Sure, they have eternal life to look forward to, but what about the here and now?
In my quest to understand, I have come to see that these women relate to Jesus much better than I can, having never faced the same life situations. The fact of the matter is Jesus chose to be poor. He was born into a simple family. His birth took place in a cave that sheltered animals. His first visitors were shepherds. During his ministry, he had no place to lay his head. He depended on the hospitality of others for the basics of life. He was mocked, ridiculed, despised, and rejected by many. And yet Jesus came to be the King of a new Kingdom. He did not come just to save souls. He came to bring compassion, healing, and freedom. He came to love and bring true justice. And while these women struggle and sacrifice and suffer, they live depending on the fact that God is on their side, that he fights for them, and that they are not alone or forgotten. They follow Jesus because they see themselves in Jesus. Jesus, Immanuel, is the good news!
With the Spirit of Jesus in us during this Christmas season, may we see ourselves in Jesus, because that is good news worth celebrating!
Lyndell Campbell-Réquia – NAB Missionary to Brazil