Yesterday, a bitter cold day, our guests at Loaves and Fishes were given a beautiful fleece blanket, each carefully folded with a message attached, a message of hope written by the children of St. James Lutheran School. Through these blankets and their messages, written by children, God’s justice shone brightly. Caring for the most vulnerable in our midst, and they are many, is the hallmark of being a disciple of Jesus. How do I/you/we care for the vulnerable?
As Isaiah reminds us in the first reading, if we remove vitriolic language, gossip, false accusations, if we care for the poor, if we try to vanquish injustice....”light shall arise in the darkness, gloom shall become like the midday, you will be like a watered garden.” Through the Love of children, the warmth of God’s love visited our Parish Center yesterday, His warmth wrapped around the homeless like a blanket.
As each blanket had its own message attached, each one different, God has a message for each and every human being who was created, is created or will be created, beginning with the unborn. Our task as we grow and move through life’s various stages, is to discover what this message is, unique to each individual. As Jesus walked by the tax collector’s post, he called Matthew to follow him; Matthew immediately “rose” from the post, leaving behind his sinful life, embracing a new, true, deeper and more aware life.
Jesus loved Matthew and wanted him to live a life in which the light can shine in the darkness, which means letting go of his old life of sin...alienation, riding forth to a whole new life. But remember, whatever the message of God, one’s life will not be easier when following Christ. If anything, life will become more challenging because we will be going against the grain, against sinful structures and lifestyles. Matthew ended up being killed for following Jesus.
This will not happen to anyone reading this, but be assured, there is a very high price for following Jesus. The message of God: take the risk, lose your life spiritually, let go, pay the price.... And you will end up in a beautiful watered Garden, a place of an Easter that never ends.