Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk! (Isaiah 55:1-2)
As I reread these beautiful words before our Eucharistic celebration yesterday, I was overwhelmed with the truth and simplicity of the words. These words summarize the essence of our relationship with the beneficent Creator. All is gift. Our gracious loving God gifts us with what we need.
So often by dint of our pre-Vatican II upbringing, we think we have to earn salvation. We think we have to do something to please. We may even have to placate an angry God who demands an ounce of justice.
Not so. Come to the waterâ€”drink and have your fill. You do not need money. Come and eat grain. You do not have to pay anything. Drink milk and wine. Come to the banquet the Creator has prepared for you. Come!
I focused on the wood carved risen Christ on the wall behind the altar. Fortunately, we do not see a crucifix when we look toward the altar in this church. We see the risen Christ. Our faith life ends in resurrection, not crucifixion. During the first millennium the Christian symbol was the risen Christ.
I saw Jesus with his outstretched arms beckoning me to come and drink and eat. He will feed us with the finest wheat and the choicest wines. In part, we live in the Paradise of resurrected life now.
Vanity of vanities and all is vanity. We labor and toil and strive and compete and conquer. We achieve mighty goals. Some of us achieve professional success and are rewarded financially. When we realize the truth of these words, we understand that our effort and striving is in vain. The Creator alone can satisfy our needs. We are invited to the banquet table. It is free. There is no admission price. There is no ticket to be stamped. Come and eat and drink.
We fail to grasp the truth of these words. We place our trust in empire. Empire will make sure we have all the good things we think we need. Empire will control and conquer so that we might sustain our bloated misdirected lifestyles. Empire will promise us the security it cannot deliver. Our only help is in the Creator who gifts us.
The Gospel we will be reading this year is Mark. Mark begins the Gospel with Jesus proclaiming the Gospel of Godâ€”the good news. In Jesusâ€™ day, proclamation of â€œgood newsâ€ was the prerogative of the emperor. Heralds would go throughout the empire and proclaim the news of conquest and victory. From the start, Jesus is in the face of empire and all that it stands forâ€”greed, conquest, domination, exploitation.
Jesus proclaimed peace, justice, mercy, and love. He healed the sick and liberated captives. Jesus proclaimed this good news and Peter and James and John left their nets and followed him. They understood that Jesus, not the emperor, had the good news. Mark throws in a little humor. James and John got so excited about the good news Jesus was proclaiming that they left Zebedee holding the net in the boat! This is radical stuff because it cuts right to the chase. Jesus calls for radical commitment.
Jesus tells us to repent and believe the good newsâ€”come and eat and drink without having to pay for it. We can leave our nets behind. He will give us what we need. He gifts us with the finest wheat and choicest wines in the Eucharist and in our daily lives in the world. Let go of imperial striving and dominative greed and let God feed us and give us to drink. Are we ready for the good news?
Thus says the LORD: