Once upon a time, Father Tom rushes in to see his doctor, looking very much worried and all strung out. He rattles off, “Doctor, take a look at me. When I woke up this morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my hair all wiry and frazzled up, my skin was all wrinkled and pasty, my eyes were bloodshot and bugging out, and I had this corpse-like look on my face! What’s wrong with me, Doctor?” The doctor looks him over for a couple of moments. He checks his pulse. He takes his blood pressure. He listens to his heart rhythms. “Well, I can tell you Father that there is nothing wrong with your eyesight.”
We need to be eyes and ears for each other.
While we do not know if the ancient people of Israel ever celebrated the Jubilee, we do know from the book of Leviticus and the prophet Isaiah that God wants someone to be holy and prophetic. People of faith celebrated the Jubilee once every forty-nine years were completed. On the fiftieth year, Jubilee was celebrated as a full Sabbatical year. It was a year of liberty: slaves were free; people were pardoned; the poor harvested small corners of peoples’ farms; stolen lands were returned to their rightful owners; and justice became the law of the land with God as judge.
We sorely need a year of Jubilee in our state of Illinois. Did you know that 14.7% of people in Illinois live in poverty? And, 23% of Illinois households struggle to put food on the table for themselves and their children? My brothers and sisters, we are approaching the feast of Christmas, and we need to be the eyes and ears for each other.
Long time ago, God sent another prophet to proclaim the coming of Jesus. He was not THE light to shine in the world. John the Baptist pointed the way to THE light. His example of challenging the complacent and pointing the way to Christ is our example as people of faith.
So, on this Gaudete Sunday, this Sunday of Rejoicing when so many people have nothing to rejoice about today, what do we offer the world? If we want to be peoples’ eyes and ears then we need to get busy about a Jubilee. A person is considered to be in poverty if he or she makes $11,670; and, for a family of four, the poverty level is $23,850. According to Mr. Charles McLimans, director of Loaves and Fishes in Naperville, and, a Sunday worshiper here at mass, 100,000 people in Du Page County are food insecure, i.e., they are not assured of three meals a day. Looking to give that end of the year donation? Our Du Page County food pantries are in need, especially Loaves and Fishes, a community pantry begun by the members of St. Raphael Parish in 1984. When we assist others with food and shelter we become peoples’ eyes and ears.
On this Gaudete Sunday, we can offer joy to the world. God wants us blameless until he returns. What we offer the world is a flashlight. We can be others’ salt. We can be peoples’ eyes and ears. We can be that light that shines in a dark, dark world.
Here in our chapel at Sacred Heart in Lisle we behold the beauty of light and architecture. At this beautiful altar we behold the beauty of God as we come forward to commune with Christ. When we leave this sacred place filled with holy food, we need to become holy food for the world. How else will there be a Jubilee? How else will people see and hear God? How else will people envision a world filled with good things unless we become their flashlights?
The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.
The Third Sunday in Adventide, Cycle B