Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it shall no longer be said, “As the Lord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of Egypt”, but “As the Lord lives who brought out and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the land of the north and out of all the lands where he had driven them.” Then they shall live in their own land. —Jeremiah 23:7–8
Exodus and exile are among the most common themes in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Chosen People are driven from their homes and their land and God shelters them and leads them back home. While the Exodus is the founding experience for God’s people, Jeremiah reminds his listeners that God will perform as great a rescue in their own lives. And from that day to this, this movement plays out in nations and in our own personal lives.
Yesterday we reflected on personal experiences of exile. Today we widen our perspective and give thought to those who are experiencing the kind of exile from their homelands that the people of Israel and the Holy Family in Egypt experienced. Our spiritual journey is never only about our own personal salvation.
The prophets remind us that we are called to live our lives in such a way that the nations will find their way to God through us. This perspective often challenges the status quo. In both the Old and New Testaments, exile happened because the leaders of the people and those who benefited from a privileged existence forgot that they too had been lost and broken at one time and depended on God for their newfound good fortune. Our Scriptures remind us again and again that God will always side with the poor, the powerless, the broken. If we can’t recognize this, if we think that being powerful is the way to find God, we are likely to be surprised. Any power and privilege we have is to be placed at the service of others.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Isaiah 61:1–3)
A SIMPLE GIFT
The Scriptures, especially Luke’s Gospel, place the birth of Jesus squarely in the middle of a very political setting. It’s a reminder that our faith can’t be something that sets us above and apart from the messiness of our world. As we become more grateful for the good things we have in our own lives, we want to share with those who have less. Find a group in your local community that is working to help refugees and immigrants and make an effort to contribute to their cause in some way.