If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness and the gloom shall become for you like midday.
Do you know those days when you can say without a doubt, "I see the Spirit of God active and alive here in this place in these people... and it is light." Or perhaps you know someone whose very being radiates God's compassion and concern for the poor and oppressed... and they're so full of joy you know it's of God?
Well, I know that I have those days. And if I'm honest with myself they happen more often than I pay attention to. However, I cannot over look the experience I had yesterday.
First, I need to set a little context. There is seems to be a movement here in Ohio (mostly the Dayton and Cincinnati regions) of Lay Marianist communities living in such a way that they become a source of vibrancy, life, justice and faith for their neighborhoods and cities. It's difficult to explain unless you've experienced it. Anyway, most of these communities are not "residential communities." Meaning, most Lay Marianists live in different houses with their families. That's pretty typical for people outside of religious life, right?
Here in Dayton, however, there are communities of Lay Marianists popping up that are people who live together - share common prayer together, have a mission statement about how they are going to be witnesses and community builders in their neighborhoods etc. It's an amazing Spirit-led phenomenon.
Yesterday a very large number of Marianists - both lay and vowed - came together in the home of one such Lay Marianist community. The community is comprised of two married couples who intentionally purchased a house on a side of town that is under-resourced... to help build community there... to witness to their faith and the sacrament of marriage... because they are committed to living lives of justice & peace. Anyway, we were there to bless their home and to celebrate with them the formation of their community.
Listening to their mission statement... sharing prayer and conversation with others who are committed to building communities of justice and peace... witnessing the power of God's Spirit in the hearts of those around me... I was in the embrace of the type of light spoken about by today's first reading from Isaiah (quoted above). This community (and others like it) are prophetic and a light for a sometimes dark society. May God continue to bless them and all who seek to bring about a more just society.
Many blessings to all who read this!