Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
December 2nd, 2009

Tom Purcell

Accounting Department
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Freedom from want is a theme for these three readings.  The Lord in Isaiah will provide us a rich feast; for the psalmist the Lord is a shepherd that shields us from want; Jesus both heals the hurting and feeds the hungry.  And although the theme is expressed in terms of easing hunger, it also resonates with satisfying our spiritual needs – Isaiah says the Lord will destroy death forever, and the psalmist indicates we will live in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives.  This promise of freedom from want is for a time yet to come, since we know that all of us are still in some need in our world, and that the gifts of freedom from physical and spiritual want fall unevenly, with many of us more fortunate in receiving material well-being far beyond our needs.

How ought we, the fortunate, respond to this largesse from the Lord?  We could simply take and enjoy our good fortune.  In doing so we would keep our focus on ourselves, or as Hopkins said in As Kingfishers Catch Fire,  “What I do is me:  for that I came.”  But another response is to model the actions of the Lord by giving to others.  Hopkins says later, “I say more:  the just man justices.” 

How do we model the Lord’s actions?  How do we “justice” as Hopkins suggests?

  • Where there is hatred we sow love
  • Where there is injury, we pardon
  • Where there is doubt, we deepen faith
  • Where there is despair, we offer hope
  • Where there is darkness, we offer light
  • Where there is sadness, we generate joy
  • Where there is hunger, we feed
  • Where there is sickness, we treat
  • Where there is material want, we clothe and shelter

We can easily be insensitive to the many opportunities to make these responses, paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of the want that exists in our world today.  Infant mortality, starving people, disease, poverty of spirit, and other wants abound in our local and international communities.  But I think it is important to remember the words of Dr. Jonas Salk in this regard.  In his acceptance speech upon receiving the Congressional Medal of Distinguished Civilian Achievement in 1956, Dr. Salk said, “The greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.”  Positive responses result in more positive responses.  Saying yes makes it easier to say yes to the next request.  Taking satisfaction in doing rather than receiving keeps us focused on the other, not self.

As we deepen our awareness of our personal freedom from want that comes from God, our gratitude will grow.  The deeper our gratitude, the greater will be our joy of being one with the Lord.  And from this joy will spring a deep and abiding love for the God who frees us from all our wants.

And so my prayer today is for the strength to say yes more times than no and to be sensitive to where I can share God’s great gift of freedom from want with my sisters and brothers who are in need.

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