Good News to the Poor 04-14-2016

Jesus’ first words in Luke’s Gospels are: “The Spirit of God is upon me, who has anointed me to bring good news to those who are poor, who has sent me to proclaim release to those who are captive and recovery of sight to those who are blind, to let those who are oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of God’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus claimed the prophet Isaiah’s words were fulfilled in him. These first words of his public life set the tone for his entire ministry. From Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity to Millard Fuller’s Habitat for Humanity, reaching out to the poor is still the fast ticket to the heart of the Gospel.

When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan, he stood in line with the peasants, the disfigured, the lame, the destitute, and the riffraff. John said to Jesus, “Aren’t you the messiah? You don’t need to stand with the riffraff and it isn’t right for me to baptize you. I’m not worthy to stoop down and untie your sandals.”[1] Jesus said in effect, “Don’t mess with me now; I know what I’m doing, like Gandhi I ride the third class train, I wear simple clothes, and prefer simple fare to the elaborate meal. I was born in a stable with barn animals. My parents were peasants like your parents. Blessed are the poor … The greatest among you is the servant of all.” John, humbled by those words, baptized God’s human incarnation.[2]

[1] My dynamic translation of Mark 1:7

[2] My dynamic translation Matthew 5:3, 23:10