THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, JAN.27, 2013.
SOUL FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY ADULT: Jesus has a Dream for the world!
INAUGURATION SPEECHES and speeches with a passion for justice, can be up-lifting for the human heart and for entire communities, peoples and nations,- indeed for thw world.. Here we combine two well-known modern ones (one from this past week), with two we find in today’s Sunday Readings. How do you see the similarities? That’s our challenge for this Sunday. What is the voice of the Lord saying to us, what is the Dream for us, – in Ireland, Alaska, Maine, Sydney, Dubai… or wherever we find ourselves at this moment?
1. Martin Luther King Jr. 1968, on the Mall in Washington DC: “I have a dream!… When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last”!
(The full version of Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech. www.metacafe.com/…/martin_luther_king_i_have_a_…
2. President Barack Obama, January 21, 2013, Inauguration Speech, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, in front of ¾ of a million people gathered, and in front of his nation and the world. He set out his dream, his hope, not for himself but for the nation, for himself as a citizen with all his fellow-citizens. ‘We the people…’ and ‘You and I, as citizens…’ were repeated over and over again.
“You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.
“You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time…with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.
‘Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
‘But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; … collective action… Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as …one people.”
‘We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.
‘And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.
(You can watch the Second Inaugural Speech of President Obama, January 21, 2013 on Youtube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zncqb-n3zMo )
‘‘The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me…sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, new sight to the blind, to set free the down-trodden, proclaim the Lord’s year of favour .’ And then he added: ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’
This was Jesus’ ‘Inaugural Address’ in Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 4:14. Jesus begins his years of ministry in the synagogue of his home town, Nazareth, using a text from the Prophet Isaiah. The Spirit of God had grasped him at this time, he said, and he was calling to people who would hear, to follow him in his dream for the world, a dream of liberty for captives, freedom for the down-trodden, and sight for a world that is oftentimes blind. He is gathering a people who will share his dream and make the dream a reality wherever they find themselves.
4. Ezra, the Scribe: c. 460BC, Inauguration Speech, on the return home to Palestine of the Jewish people, exiled for over two generations: (from Today’s First Reading, Nehemiah 8:2-10) Notice the thirst of their hearing, their AMEN! AMEN!, a response of YES to the Word of God, their bowing down in reverence, and then their going home filled with JOY, and ready to share their celebration with their neighbours.
“The people all gathered, including ‘the children old enough to understand. Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
The Levites…instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.
Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”
Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.”
In other words, as with any Inauguration Address, the message is: ‘Do not be sad; the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.’. It was a knees-up time! Let the music begin. Here was a new beginning for the people, the inauguration of a new era.
See Text of this Reading, from Nehemiah Chapter 8, on http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Nehemiah+8&version=NIV
Today is our new day, a new beginning if we are ready to be in the gathering of the Master. “I have a dream!’ Have we got it?
Seamus Devitt C.Ss.R. firstname.lastname@example.org