"good news to the poor" pt.2

Continuing the write-up about the retreat ministry:

By then we were convinced that God was calling us to a different kind of work, a different way of reaching out to people. Struggling to understand what that was, in the months that followed we looked closely at Jesus' life. The first verses of Isaiah 61 offer a clear image of what we saw in Jesus, his life and mission. Jesus applied those very words to himself: "The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor... to bind up the brokenhearted... to proclaim liberty to captives...."

The word translated "the poor" is the Hebrew word anawim. It can also mean lowly, weak, afflicted. In the psalms and the prophets, the word came to refer to those poor, oppressed ones who were struggling to be faithful to God. These were the ones Jesus focused his attention on, the ones he joined, becoming a poor, afflicted man himself, and the ones to whom he could announce good news from God.

That's what Jesus offered them, a word from God. Not money, or human expertise, or political power. He offered something even more powerful: a healing word, a proclamation of freedom, an announcement of God's favor to those who thought they were forgotten. Those who were healed or freed then knew that this was not a work of man but of God. And those who were interested in money or political influence knew that Jesus had nothing that they wanted. Even those who came for healing had to come to Jesus with the right motive, with faith, or he could not heal them. Because of this, Jesus attracted the anawim, and could announce the good news that was for them. Their cries had been heard. They were invited into a life of freedom and intimacy with God, the life that Jesus himself lived. And they didn't have to become middle class, so-called “respectable citizens” first. They just had to follow him.