In today's first reading, Isaiah 1: 10, 16-20, the prophet says to us and to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, "Listen to the instructions of our God...Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim; redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow."
Isaiah is speaking to us as individual persons, as individual families, as church, as a nation, as civic and as social entities. As an individual, whom have I wronged? What are the misdeeds, the evil, that I have done that needs correction? Whose pleas for mercy, for understanding, for forgiveness and help in time of need have I ignored?
As a family, are there individuals who are being wronged, abused--verbally, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually? What wrongs within the family need to be addressed? Whose pleas within the family need to be acknowledged and dealt with patiently, compassionately, lovingly? Who within the family needs to be accepted, forgiven, welcomed?
As a nation, as politicians, as governors, as senators, as members of the Department of Justice, as members of the Pentagon, as members of the President's Press Core, of the Cabinet, of the National Security Advisory Team, as the President himself, Isaiah says to each of you: "Wash yourself clean! Put away your misdeeds...; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim; redress the wronged [immigrants, refugees, uninsured], hear the orphan's plea, [the pleas of vulnerable males and females forced into the sex trade, into slave labor, into drug trafficking] defend the widow [defend minorities, the vulnerable, the uninsured, the poor, oppressed and marginalized of our societies]."
God, through Isaiah, goes on to say: "Come now, let us set things right,...Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool. If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land; but if you refuse and resist, the sword shall consume you; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken!" That sword could be the sword of selfishness, narcissism, envy, jealousy, greed or any other sin that ultimately brings us death: the death of love and generosity, the death of honesty, the death of forgiving, the death of mercy and compassion. A hardness of heart sets in. A blindness and a deafness takes possession of us and we are then unable to tune into the voice of the Lord. We then live in darkness. Is that what we truly desire?
ARE WE LISTENING TO THE PROPHET ISAIAH? And, if we are, what changes need to take place so that each of us and each entity of our nation, family, church, civic community becomes an obedient servant of God?