Getting Up Again” and “Laying Down our Lives”: The Enduring Work

I invite you this morning to enter with me into the powerful summons that God issues to each of us, today and always, through the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger
    who brings good news
    who announces salvation,
    who says to Zion [and to all God’s people]
         ‘Your God reigns.’” (Isaiah 52.7)

and then come with me to Nazareth, to hear Jesus declare in the synagogue that his are the anointed feet of that Isaian messenger:

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because
          he has anointed me to bring good news
          to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
          And recovery of sight to the blind,
          To let the oppressed go free,
          And to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4.18-19)

Catherine McAuley was, of course, not Jesus Christ. Her feet upon the Irish streets were not his earthly feet. Like John the Baptist she knew only too well that she was not even “worthy to untie the thong of his sandal” (John 1.27). And yet by the call and grace of God’s Spirit, they were Christ’s feet, the feet of his messenger, the feet of one he sent, feet by which he chose to walk through the streets and slums of her time and place. In her heart and spirit Catherine ardently accepted this call to travel as Jesus’ disciple, to resemble him on the path he trod, and with him to “bring good news to the poor.”