The Good News of the Presence of Jesus in Our Lives

01-23-2022From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

It is always good to hear encouraging news. For centuries, the Jewish people longed for a savior. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed what the Savior would do when he came. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21) Jesus speaks those words and says He is the fulfillment of that promise. The long awaited hope for a Savior was and still is today a reality, the inner hope we all have as human beings: “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.” While we live in a far more technological world and are very advanced in knowledge, the hopes for the fullness of life in this world and the hopes for eternal life are now a reality. All we have to do is believe in Jesus.

Isaiah spoke of the obstacles the people of his time faced: lack of freedom, blindness, and oppression. Freedom is a gift we celebrate as Americans. But the freedom Jesus offers is far more life giving and ultimately the foundation all human beings need to live in peace and harmony with one another. Because we have inner freedom, we are capable of virtue and its opposite - sin. There is sin in our world and in our lives. We can try to block it out, deny it, and ignore it, but will not go away. In our human nature we are capable of great things and horrible things. History is full of great and evil people. We can feel oppressed by guilt, temptations given into, and anger with harsh and divisive words and actions. We can blind ourselves to the needs and concerns of others when we only think about how people and situations affect “me.” With closed minds we are not open to the viewpoint of others and their goodness, especially the Good News preached and offered to us by Jesus Himself. In the first reading at Mass today (Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10), the Jewish people are thrilled and prostrate themselves in great joy on hearing the Word of God read to them. It is the word of God in the Scriptures and the Word of God who is Jesus Himself who takes away ignorance and confusion.

We call Jesus our Savior and there is no doubt we, along with everyone else who walks the face of the earth, need to be saved from all that distracts from the goodness, love, and truth of God. In the book “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” St. John Paul II reminds us that Jesus came to save us from our sins and bring us salvation: “Convincing the world of the existence of sin is not the same as condemning it for sinning. ‘God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that it might be saved through Him.’ (John 3:17). Convincing the world of sin means creating the conditions for salvation.” It is the Good News of the presence of Jesus in our lives that raises us far beyond sin and defending ourselves from it to being signs and sources of the goodness, love, mercy, and truth of God. How blessed we are to not only know this in our minds but to receive Him in the Sacraments, especially Holy Communion, as we live our lives every day.

“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.!!”