“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:6-11
“Leviticus proposes a year of Jubilee (every fifty years), but the prophets proclaim the realization of the mishpat [justice] and the tzedekah [righteousness or ethical obligation of charity] that will avoid the injustice of debt, slavery, and the loss of lands and houses. When that injustice is already installed in the society, they announce for Yahweh a time of liberation that has neither dates nor calendar. We should always be in this time…if we hear the voice of the prophets.”
José Severino Croatto in “From the Leviticus Jubilee Year to the Prophetic Liberation of Time: Exegetical Reflections on Isaiah 61 and 58 in Relation to the Jubilee” in God’s Economy: Biblical Studies in Latin America, edited by Ross and Gloria Kinsler (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2005) 107.
This weekend I am attending the Society of Biblical Literature 2018 Annual Meeting here in Denver. It will be good to rub shoulders with biblical scholars from around the world and even better to hear papers offering fresh research and insights much like Croatto’s exegetical article which served as the source for today’s Daily Meditation. If you are reading this and attending, please message me, and let’s try to meet up.
Croatto’s research celebrates that Jubilee in the mind of the prophets is not bound by a year but becomes our way of living all the time. When this takes place, we thrive in the reality Isaiah envisioned. We spend ourselves on behalf of those who are hurting, needy, oppressed, and our otherworldly, charitable (think: grace-filled) behavior makes things right (think: brings righteousness) all around us.
Thursday night Jenni and I saw the stage production of “It’s a Wonderful Life!” at Front Range Christian School, where our son and daughter attended and where Sammy works part-time. The cast did a masterful job in a story that depicts the impact one person, George Bailey, can have on an entire community. He help every person have a place to live and food on the table after a day of work. It really got me thinking.
Just as George Bailey spent himself for Bedford Falls and contributed to its flourishing, we get to do the same thing where God has us. And yet, it’s hard, so hard that when crisis comes, we may, like George be tempted to give up. It will always appear absurd and challenge our fortitude, so re-read today’s Scripture to receive divine consolation and renewed courage to spend yourself generously.Read more