Today’s first reading invites us to be kind.

This doesn’t seem like it should be that controversial, right?  We all like it when others are kind to us.  If someone holds the door or picks up the tab or notices when we aren’t doing well, we appreciate it.  Isaiah encourages us to share with a wider circle, that there would be sharing in the entire nation.  A little earlier he notices that people feel that their prayers aren’t being answered, even though they are fasting.  I don’t think fasting is as common now as it used to be, but the idea of it isn’t just that we give up something that we would like ourselves, but that we share it with someone else.  Fasting reminds us of what it is like to be missing something very important, and it teaches us to be kinder to others.

Isaiah also addresses the nation as a whole.  A nation is more than just a collection of people that happen to live near each other.  They are connected by culture and a common government.  Some people make a bright line between a kind government and kind citizens, but that is simply not supported here.  Everything we make should act in as godly a way as we do.

This is part of the biblical idea of justice.  Notice how Isaiah immediately goes on to talk about “remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech” as though it was directly related.  There are many ways for people to be cruel to each other.  We’ve certainly seen false accusations.  But that must not stop us from our own purpose.  Just because others are not good to us does not mean we can give it right back to them.

Perhaps that is why Jesus calls us the light of world.  It’s true that we don’t do things the way that other people would.  Sometimes kindness and trust don’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.  Certainly we still try to be prudent.  But our hope for the future comes from more than just optimism.  We know that if we are good to others, then our God will be good to us.

Peace ~ Fr. Dan

Peace ~ Fr. Dan