Hard to top today’s Mass readings.
From the first Letter of John: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
“Love” is a word we toss around. I love my parents and my wife and basketball and my car and pizza.
The love John writes about is reflected in today’s Gospel passage from Luke. In it, we hear from Jesus that love is not a feeling, but a series of choices and actions that put the other ahead of one’s self.
Announcing the start of his ministry, Jesus reads from the Prophet Isaiah:
“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.”
Jesus was sent to bring God’s love to the poor and oppressed. From the start, his ministry is designed to bring him to those margins of society that are easy to ignore.
He is not talking only about material poverty. God also has a special care for those places inside us that are the most impoverished – the darkest corers of our hearts, the embarrassing things we don’t like about ourselves, the decisions we regret. God wants to be let in to those places, and to bring his healing there.
As we learn to let his love ease our burdens, God then equips us to bring those glad tidings with him to people in pain.