Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Today’s readings represent several core messages for Christians and all those who try to understand the way of God. The first reading is a series of beautiful “if…then” promises. The Lord promises “If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusations…malicious speech…If you bestow your bread on the hungry…” then your rewards shall be great. We will have light in the darkness, bounty on parched land, a magnificent garden and many other gifts so treasured by the ancient Hebrews.
The Gospel reading for today, at first glance, seems to be about a very different subject — how Jesus ate and drank with “tax collectors and sinners” — the former occupation being profoundly reviled in the Bible. Seeing Jesus stooping to such a “low level” and eating among people who were not regarded as worthy of His teachings, the Pharisees and their scribes complained bitterly. Jesus’ answer was simple: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
After some thought, I realized that these seemingly disparate readings remind us of the same central message of Christ’s teachings—that all men and women are equal in the eyes of God and we have an obligation to love everyone. If we are true Christians, then we should not tolerate oppression, lies, or malicious speech. We should feed the hungry, and we should care for the sick and sinners alike, because they need “healing” at least as much as “the righteous.”
God, help me to avoid maliciousness in all words and deeds. Help me to remember to care for the oppressed. Help me never to forget that all my brothers and sisters are loved by You, and worthy of our love as well.
Vincent Bolduc, Professor of Sociology
First Reading: Isaiah 58:9b-14
Gospel: Luke 5:27-32
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website