Love And Justice


Jesus “sneaks” one little line in to his quotation from the scroll of Isaiah, and while we do not read about it in Luke 4, we might wonder whether those who knew Isaiah 61 well would have noticed that one line from Isaiah 58:6 is folded in. Did that raise a few eyebrows in Nazareth? Look at the context of Isaiah 58:6, with the line quoted by Jesus in bold:

“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?” (Isa 58:6-7)

Jesus sets out his vocation for his earthly ministry in this small synagogue in Nazareth, and it includes a mission of comprehensive shalom-restoration, justice, for all of creation. He goes so far as to fold in the concerns of worship with this vocation of shalom, something we saw clearly in a previous Old Testament reflection. Fasting, religious devotion, is not other-worldly pietism. Justice-oriented, faithful devotion to the God of the Bible involves a radical commitment to the poor, the suffering, the foreigner, the sick. In a word, the vulnerable.