Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Gospel according to Jesus and Psalm 146

From this morning's (Jan. 21, 2014) Lectionary (PCUSA): Psalm 146

 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
          whose hope is in the LORD their God,
6   who made heaven and earth,
          the sea, and all that is in them;
     who keeps faith forever;
7        who executes justice for the oppressed;
          who gives food to the hungry.

     The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8        the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
     The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
          the LORD loves the righteous.
9   The LORD watches over the strangers;
          he upholds the orphan and the widow,
          but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

In a time when many a politician takes a shot at the poor and questions their integrity, and makes sport of them in their poverty, as lazy, willingly dependent, a drain on the economy, laggards and sluggards, takers not makers, it's helpful to read of God's social agenda, God's priorities and the way God looks favorably upon those who are scorned and held in contempt by those who "live in ease and are proud" (Psalm 123.4).

When Jesus begins his ministry by preaching in his hometown, he's handed the Isaiah scroll and reads similar words, words of Jubilee, reflected here in Psalm 146.

Initially, the hometown folks thought he was preaching for them, and they were cheered and proud of this local boy, but when Jesus closes the scroll and begins to preach, they quickly turn on him, and seek to kill him. Why? Because Jesus makes it clear to them that God's purpose is ever-so much larger in scope and includes the very people whom these folks despise.

Jesus escaped their clutches and goes on to preach and heal, to lay before us a gospel that truly is good news for all - a gospel that never grows old, is always fresh, always a challenge, sometimes irritating, but always gospel.