We don’t need to look far to find the cause for celebration and faith filled action. Opportunities to lift up from whence we came seeing God’s action through our journey. The sharing of Good News to the Poor, and proclaiming Christ’s liberating force in our lives and within our community. We can respond with great generosity the Spirit’s invitation to be a peripheral church, namely to seek out and engage those who find themself struggling on the margins in our community
We have begun our 100th year as a church here in South St. Petersburg. We must continue to reflect and challenge ourselves to truly live the Gospel and be a church that finds new ways to reach those on the peripheries. Living our anointing, announcing Good News, and proclaiming liberty are not just for one day of the week. Just as we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr, to be persons who live his dream, and make a difference in our world is not just for one day and put away, so too must we in our daily walk be a church that goes to the peripheries to meet, encounter, serve and love those who are suffering and in need.
It is said that I often speak of reaching those on the peripheries, not turning away from them but moving toward them. Since becoming Pope, Francis has asked the Church repeatedly to reach outward toward the peripheries, and he immediately began to show his preference for them. Here at St. Joseph Parish, we seek to follow his example and we must continue to do the same.
Let’s look to God’s word spoken to us this week. We hear from the book of Nehemiah who recounts the priest Ezra bringing the law of the Lord to the people, men, women and children. He read it all morning until midday and they all listened attentively. ” He opened the scroll so that all the people might see it, for he was standing higher up than any of the people and as he opened it, all the people rose.
Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people, their hands raised high, answered, “Amen, amen!”
It is clear that we must listen to God word proclaimed and spoken if we are to be a peripheral church. Namely the heart that is open to hearing and receiving God’s word will respond generously to those in need. After hearing The word of the Lord they were invited to feast to celebrate. Also included in that celebration was to remember those on the peripheries,
“Today is holy to the LORD your God.
Do not be sad, and do not weep” for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.
He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks,
and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared;
for today is holy to our LORD.
Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”
The words of Jesus proclaimed by Luke are powerful. Jesus proclaims that the word of God is fulfilled in their hearing. This had to cause wonder and bewilderment as well as confusion as Jesus reads from the Prophet Isaiah: ” He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
This is the call to each of us. Yes He is the fulfillment of the Law and the prophet’s but we too like Jesus must fulfill our baptismal call in the anointing and be like Jesus, Going to those on the Peripheries and Bringing Good News and Proclaiming Liberty!
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same attitude toward all. Put away ambitious thoughts and associate with those who are lowly.