Outskirts of Large Cities and Towns

by | Nov 30, 2021 | Formation, Reflections

Jesus has become poor so that we may be rich by his poverty.  He chooses but the poor on the outskirts to witness to him.

The word of God comes to John in the desert, on the outskirts.  That is to say, the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah is the prophet of the Most High.  Just like those God called before to speak for him (Is 38, 4; Jer 1, 4; Ez 1, 3).

“Desert,” “outskirts,” reminds us also that we look at the appearance; God looks at the heart (1 Sam 16, 7).  And his ways are not our ways (Is 55, 8).  That is why he chooses what the world takes as foolish, weak, of no worth (1 Cor 1, 26-31).

No, God chooses not those who live in palaces and boast of their power, wealth and lavish life.  Nor the high priests who oversee temple worship and commerce, too, in Jerusalem.  He looks with favor more on the lowly who are in awe of his words than on the temple and its worship (Is 66, 1-2).

So then, the poor who is on the outskirts is God’s prophet, and more than a prophet.  For the one who wears and eats what his surroundings yield is also Jesus’ forerunner.  The one who shows us one step, though small, that makes for repentance.  For turning away from the way that the self-sufficient, who have no compassion, are and live (Lk 12, 16-21; 16, 19-31).

Yes, God turns down the self-satisfied.  Did he choose those who are in the mold of this world, they would boast of successes as if they were theirs.

What is there on the outskirts

Hence, those whom God calls to speak for him and to follow Jesus cannot but be poor.  They stay on the outskirts.  That is why the world’s greed does not stain them.  They do not obsess about wealth and power.

Nor do they follow the example of those who oppress the poor and weak (Wis 2, 10).  Rather, they help one another.  And they look after, most of all, the poorest, the orphans and the widows.  They thus practice the pure, true, religion (Jas 2, 27; SV.EN XI:190; SV.EN XII:142).

On the outskirts, in the desert, there are also loneliness, dryness, trials.  And danger of death, due to hunger and thirst, to wild animals and deadly serpents, to the night-demon (Is 34, 14).

But fear, despair, does not paralyze Yahweh’s poor.  That is so since they, and those who are partners in the work of the Good News, lean on him.  And on each other.  They also listen to him.  Hence, they cannot but rejoice in him who is always true.  He does right by the oppressed and cares for the poor (Ps 146).

They pray, yes, on the outskirts, and meet God.  And they ponder (SV.EN X:166):  “Who would want to be rich when the Son of God willed to be poor?”  In the desert, too, the bond of love gets stronger and tighter.  There also, they read and re-read the Gospel and get passionate about it.

On the outskirts besides, those who hunger get their fill of loaves and fish, which points to the food that gives eternal life.

Lord Jesus, lead us to the outskirts.  And grant that we repent and get the name, “the peace of justice and the glory of God’s worship.”  Do what your sinless Mother asks that you do for us.

5 December 2021
Second Sunday of Advent (C)
Bar 5, 1-9; Phil 1, 4-6. 8-11; Lk 3, 1-6