Being signs of hope
The prophet Isaiah speaks words of hope, reminding his listeners that God is always faithful, always present, and that God rights whatever was out of order. This “righting” was put in very concrete terms: prisoners set free, the blind see, the deaf hear, etc. God’s love would be extended to the poorest in society, those who had been pushed to the margins and forgotten or neglected.
Based on Jesus’ teaching, James admonished the community to give equal respect and dignity to all, rich and poor alike. They were to go another step further and help provide for the needs of the poor in their midst.
Through his actions, Jesus teaches the disciples of old and us how our relationship with God is to be lived out. Jesus spoke of God’s love and his teaching flowed out of his intimate relationship with God. Experiencing the depth and wonder of God’s love, Jesus concretized that love in his actions which so often focused on “righting” what was out of order. In each case, his actions were deeply personal and intimate. Jesus did not simply pray over someone and ask God to heal, but rather often took the person aside, in private for an intimate encounter.
The heart of the Oblate charism is to “proclaim the Good News to the poor”. As Jesus demonstrates, and St. Francis of Assisi reminds us, our actions are more effective than our words. Both our words and our actions are to flow from, and be informed by, our intimate relationship with the Trinity. St. James also reminds us that our words of faith are to inform our actions. As we reflect on our universal vocation as disciples, and our particular vocations within that discipleship, we are challenged by one question today: Do my actions continue Jesus’ mission and ministry of “righting what is out of order”? As we look to the future, we might ask ourselves “To what more am I being called as a disciple?” Might I be called to live the Oblate charism as a vowed religious or a lay Associate?
By Richard Beaudette, OMI