sexta-feira, 20 de maio de 2016


Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
Isaiah 35:5-6 – NIV

Far from being pessimistic, the scriptures are often too optimistic! They can point to something good when so many bad things fill the world. They describe the crippled not only as standing without crutches, but jumping and dancing; the dumb not only as speaking a few words, but singing for joy! They tell us of deserts being transformed into gardens with gushing water fountains! The scriptures are optimistic to the extreme, because their God is great.

There is a law of nature that we have great difficulty in accepting: life and death are interdependent. One cannot exist without the other. Daily our body is sustained by the death of millions of other biological organisms. Every bite we eat to sustain our body comes from the death of other life forms: plant, animal or bacterial. Death sustains our life. We cannot live without causing the death of other organisms. Also, the death of our body will release elements that will go to support other living organisms.

To see death and tragedy as being final brings sadness and despair. The prophet Isaiah could see that the dryness of the earth and the sufferings of the people could give way to new possibilities yet undreamed of. He was optimistic because he saw that the physical desolation around him could be transformed into a new fullness of life. The ugliness could pave the way to beauty and sorrow to joy.

There is another law that we have much difficulty in recognizing: evil is self-destructive. The logic of dealing with evil by trying to destroy evil is like the logic of killing people who kill people because killing people is wrong. Attempts to destroy evil only multiply evil. An eye for eye causes blindness, not sight. Historically, all great imperials have collapsed from inner rottenness rather than from superior external forces. Evil gives the appearance of being all powerful, but it will ultimately destroy itself. Our great danger is that by our participation in evil, even by trying to destroy it, we will destroy ourselves.

The contribution of the Gospel message is the creation of good, not the destruction of evil. Many people in the time of Jesus expected him to be a powerful figure and destroy the Roman oppressors. When that didn’t happen he was questioned about his “savior hood”. He replied: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Mt. 11:5). We cannot destroy evil in the world, but we can promote goodness. Our prophetic hope is that evil will eventually destroy itself and that our goodness will be self-perpetuating.

We were startled to see the Muslim fanatics, willingly and joyfully sacrifice their lives in defense of their cause. They believe that their death will contribute to their enemy’s defeat. For them death is a friend. We condemn those who kill in the name of God, but at the same time, would be able to die for love of even a neighbor, much less for someone who does not like us? We so love our comfort and security that we are reluctant to sacrifice our privileges, much less our lives.

We play up the death of Jesus but have difficulty in following the example of his life. Yet, it was his teachings and ministry that made his death significant. Jesus needs to be born within us in such a way as to infect us with the prophetic optimism that leads us to give up our privileges with the certainty that self-giving is the way to abundant life.


The desert and the parched land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
    it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
    the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
    the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the feeble hands,
    steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
    he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
    he will come to save you.”
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
    and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
    the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
    grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
     and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

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