Reflecting on Isaiah 58:7-10
We had a huge snowstorm on Christmas Eve, 1982. For the first time in history, a Catholic Church in Denver opened up all night, to provide shelter for those who would have been on the street. That radical decision eventually evolved into the Samaritan House, the first dedicated homeless shelter in the country.
I remember my dad, Jesuit-educated, watching the news stories in wonder, and saying, astonishingly, “I’ve been a Catholic all my life, and this is the first time I’ve heard that I’m supposed to care about all the people sleeping on the street.”
This staggering statement makes perfect sense if you consider that the Sunday lectionary of the pre-Vatican II Church used exactly one reading from the prophets (Isaiah 60, on Epiphany) in the entire Church year.
Since the Revised Lectionary of 1969, we hear the prophets every single Sunday except in the Easter Season. And this huge —some might say relentless—exposure to the prophets has shaped us. There are certainly no practicing Catholics today who would pretend to never hearing that they are called to Share bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them…
In fact, the very first sentence of the 1965 Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World states: The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well.
As Ebeneezer Scrooge so joyfully recognized that glorious Christmas Day, humankind is our business. We hear you, prophets. You’re coming through loud and clear.
In what ways do the prophets energize you today?
Kathy McGovern ©2023