Author: Chad Hyatt
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Reflection: v. 1, ‘The Lord God’s Spirit is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me… to bring good news to the poor.’
Given the choice to write just one reflection for this week of Advent, it would be impossible for me to let Isaiah pass by—not with these liberating words ringing out, like the joyful breaking of chains, across the centuries: ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me for the Lord has anointed me… to bring good news to the poor.’ We know, of course, that Jesus couldn’t let these words pass him by either. When he took the pulpit in his own hometown, he told all who would listen that this prophecy was being fulfilled in him.
From the Hebrew prophets to Jesus, from John Lewis to the millions who have marched this summer, these words take on flesh and blood, body and soul. And wherever they resound, from an exiled prophet to a tiny synagogue in Nazareth, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the street corner where George Floyd was murdered, truth is being boldly told and good news is powerfully proclaimed.
Maybe I run the risk of being a little too Pentecostal, but make no mistake, it’s an anointing. It’s oil running down our heads, poured out by the Lord alone, coming like the rushing of God’s mighty Spirit upon us. It’s a messianic commission—for Jesus, of course—but also for all of God’s people. It is our vocation together. It was for exiled Israel, and it is for us in our own homelessness, existential and literal. It’s the power of God that confronts every other power there is, every system that exploits and destroys God’s good creation, every idol that crushes human beings and robs us of our inherent dignity.
It’s not even remotely apolitical. It is the authentic, revolutionary politics of the kingdom of God that demands power, resources, and relationships be reorganized according to our love for our neighbors, especially the poorest among us. The good news we celebrate this Advent—and indeed all year long—is that the God who loves us all boldly takes the side of the poor—so that every one of us can be set free. And that’s the gospel truth.
Prayer Spirit of the Lord, anoint us to proclaim the good news of your liberation to the poor—and to live like we believe it.