Readings: Isaiah 58.9b–end;
Today’s reading from the letter to the Hebrews reminds us that God’s rich and undeserved grace, his favour, is available to all who call out to him.
So, when was the last time you cried out to God? When did you last reach out to God, whether in desperation or celebration?
If it has been a while, then it is high time we stepped out confidently into God’s presence. It is time to remember that God is not a Father who keeps His distance from His children. He enjoys and invites us into meaningful relationships with Him.
Yes, God in His fearsomeness calls us not to fear Him but to a purpose-driven life with Him. Relationships (both with God and other people) never thrive on fear.
Jesus teaches us, in today’s gospel, that relationships, which saddle one party with wearisome burdens, are never healthy. It is never healthy going around plotting to keep another or others trapped in distress in the face of God’s ready help.
He makes it plain that God will not stifle or cripple us in His embrace. God’s covenant offers us a lightness of spirit, joy and goodness.
By working a miracle on the Sabbath, Jesus reveals that God’s rest does not begin until ALL CREATION is released from whatever holds them back from singing God’s praise.
God is not content that any of us is held or kept back from finding fulfilment in him.
We must never tolerate anything harmful to us. We must resist whatever works to deny us a healthy and fruitful life. We must not permit any circumstances to justify holding others back. Nothing and no one must ever limit us.
The purpose-driven life strives to seek fulfilment (being made whole) for ourselves and others.
The prophet Isaiah says as much in today’s first reading.
He reminds us that the faithful response to our duty of love to God and each other will always result in this harvest of joy and fulfilment.
And if we wonder what that faithful response is like, Isaiah points us to God. The prophet directs us to emulate/copy God’s selfless dealings with creation. Isaiah insists that we join in God’s Mission, God’s determination, to bring everything in our world to a perfect rest – the true Sabbath.
In that service, Isaiah assures us that we will know what it is to ‘ride upon the heights of the earth,’ as God’s Eagles. In other words, we will experience a special gift of God: His grace/ability to rise effortlessly above every tall order that confronts us in life.
What is more, Isaiah also says that we shall be nurtured’ with the heritage of … Jacob’ – which is none other than to be called Israel – the one who prevails and so rules with God.
©️ Fr Bùnmi Fágbèmí (2022).
The Rev’d Dr ‘Bunmi FagbemiVicar of Holy Trinity, Tottenham(A Community of Faith, Hope and Love)