The Word Among Us

Mass Reading & Meditation for February 13, 2016 View another date

Meditation: Isaiah 58:9-14

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Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Then you shall delight in the Lord. (Isaiah 58:14)

Don’t you love checklists? It’s such an inspiring feeling when you can tick off one item after another. At first glance, it may seem that the prophet is giving us a checklist as well—a list of things we can do that will bring us blessing from the Lord. But that’s not really how God works.

It has been said that the commandments are like a mirror. When we look at them and the high standard they call us to, we are moved to reflect on our often weak and inconsistent adherence to them. That doesn’t leave us feeling very encouraged, does it?

Perhaps today’s responsorial psalm can help us out. Confessing that he is “afflicted and poor,” the psalmist calls out for “mercy . . . all the day” (Psalm 86:1, 3). He comes before the Lord humbly, asking God to hear him and rescue him. This is exactly how we can answer the prophetic call in today’s first reading. By running to the God of mercy, we can find the strength to “remove . . . oppression,” not just our own interior oppression, but also the forms of oppression that afflict so many of our brothers and sisters around us (Isaiah 58:9). Relieved of our own burdens and in touch with the God of grace, we are more free to care for the needy.

It’s not a sign of weakness to admit that you need the Lord. It’s a sign of courage and humility. It’s a sign that you are willing to receive God’s grace and strength—the strength that enables you to do all things.

When Jesus called a tax collector named Levi, it was his experience of grace that compelled him to leave his job and follow. When he called Peter, the power of that encounter turned this fisherman into a fisher of men. The same can happen for us.

So follow the psalmist’s example, and run to the Lord. Right in the middle of a challenging situation, find the courage to cry out to Jesus for his help. That’s the best way to make sure that any “gloom” in your life can be lifted (Isaiah 58:10).

“Jesus, I need you today! Please forgive the ways I try to follow you on my own strength. Thank you, Lord, for your grace and strength!”

Psalm 86:1-6
Luke 5:27-32

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