read: “The Lord God’s spirit is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release for captives, and liberation for prisoners . . .” -Isaiah 61:1,2
reflect: Cardinal Casaroli was secretary of state to Pope John Paul II. He lived in luxury, carrying out a powerful job. But he had another job too. At night, he would dress in the brown garb of a common monk, and sneak out of the Vatican. He was going to his second job, as a chaplain for a juvenile detention center in Rome, where he was known under a different name. Not until his funeral did anyone besides the Pope know about Cardinal Casaroli’s ministry.
Isaiah the prophet is telling us about the role of the leader whom God appoints. This leader will bring good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, and set prisoners free. Christians hear this and think of Jesus, who preached these words as his first public teaching in Luke 4. Who did he come to set free?
Which are the prisoners, those behind bars, or those stuck behind the walls of bills to pay and expectations to keep, all the while wishing for the opportunity to serve God more freely? Of course it is more difficult to be physically detained. Yet both are challenges for the soul.
pray: Don’t let us make excuses, O God- show us the ministry you have for us today and let our priorities fall in line with what you reveal to us. Set us free! Amen.
with children: Create a play about the nativity of Jesus. Play the part of God, deciding when to sneak out of heaven into the manger!
act: Bring a card or cookies to someone who is confined today.