I read today’s reading from Isaiah with a heavy heart.
People here in Honduras are suffering. The economy is poor; the coffee harvest is poor and the prices are low; taxes have been raised; the cost of the basic food basket is rising; violence continues and the new president thinks that a military police is the solution; there are fears of a devaluation of the currency; and more.
The people are walking in darkness.
But Isaiah promises that
The yoke that was weighing them down,
the heavy bar across their shoulders,
the rod of the oppressor –
these you have broken…
The yoke of poverty, the bar of inequality, the rod of repressive economic and political policies burden our people here.
And it’s worse than I thought.
This week I was talking with the pastor of the parish where I work. Many people, he said, many be losing their homes or their lands because of their debts.
People take out loans at the beginning of the year in the hope that the harvests – especially the coffee harvest – will yield enough to pay them back, But this year with many fields of the poor devastated by the roya fungus and with prices lower than they have been in several years, cash is hard to come by, even if one hires oneself out for the coffee harvest of the large landowners.
But the promise if Isaiah is that these burdens have been broken.
The words of Gustavo Gutiérrez speak to me:
“I do theology as one who comes from a context of deep poverty, and thus for me, the first question of theology is how do we say to the poor: God loves you?”
How do we tell them of the Good News of God’s love?
Jesus, after the darkness of the imprisonment of John the Baptist, goes out “proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom [of Heaven], and curing all kinds of sickness and disease among the people.” (Matthew 4: 23)
How can we be signs of the Kingdom, bringing healing and hope?
That is my challenge for the year.
The quote from Gustavo Gutiérrez is taken from In the Company of the Poor: Conversations with Dr. Paul Farmer and Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, a book I strongly recommend.