Thursday, January 10, 2019
1) Opening prayer
God our Father,
through Christ Your Son
the hope of eternal life dawned on our world.
Give to us the light of faith
that we may always acknowledge Him as our Redeemer
and come to the glory of His kingdom,
where He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 4:14-22a
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
• Animated by the Spirit, Jesus returns toward Galilee and begins to announce the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Being in the community and teaching in the synagogues, He reaches Nazareth where He grew up. He was returning to the community where, since the time He was small, had participated in the celebration - for thirty years. The following Saturday, according to His custom, He went to the synagogue to be with the people and to participate in the celebrations.
• Jesus rises to read. He chooses a text from Isaiah which speaks about the poor, of prisoners, of the blind and the oppressed. The text reflects the situation of the people of Galilee in the time of Jesus. In the name of God, Jesus takes a stand to defend the life of His people, and with the words of Isaiah, He defines His mission: to proclaim the Good News to the poor, to proclaim freedom to prisoners, to restore sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed. Going back to the ancient tradition of the prophets, He proclaims “a year of grace of the Lord”. He proclaims a jubilee year. Jesus wants to reconstruct the community, the clan, in such a way that once again it may be the expression of their faith in God! And then, as God is Father of all, we should all be brothers and sisters of one another.
• In ancient Israel, the great family, the clan or community, was the basis of living together. It was the protection of families and of the people, the guarantee of the possession of the land, the principal channel of tradition, and the defense of the people. It was a concrete way of embodying the love of God in the love for neighbor. To defend the clan, the community, was the same as defending the Covenant with God. In Galilee at the time of Jesus, there was a two-fold segregation, that of the politics of Herod Antipas (4 BC to 39 AD) and the segregation of the official religion. This became the system of exploitation and of repression of the politics of Herod Antipas supported by the Roman Empire. Many people were homeless, excluded, and without work (Lk 14:21; Mt 20:3, 5-6). The result was that the clan, the community, was weakened. The families and the people remained without any help, without any defense. The official religion maintained by the religious authorities of the time, instead of strengthening the community in a way in which it could receive and accept the excluded, strengthened this segregation even more. The law of God was used to legitimize the exclusion of many people: women, children, Samaritans, foreigners, lepers, the possessed, publicans, the sick, the mutilated, the handicapped. It was all the opposite of the fraternity which God had dreamt for all! This was the political and economic situation, as well as the religious ideology. Everything conspired to weaken the local community and hinder the manifestation of the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ program, based on the prophecy of Isaiah, offered an alternative.
• After finishing the reading, Jesus updated the text applying it to the life of the people, saying, “Today, this reading, which you have heard with your own ears, has been fulfilled!” His way of joining the bible to the life of the people produced a two-fold reaction. Some remained surprised and amazed. Others had a negative reaction. Some were scandalized and wanted to have nothing more to do with Him. They said, “Is He not the son of Joseph?” (Lk 4:22). Why were they scandalized? They were because Jesus says to accept and receive the poor, the blind, the oppressed. But they did not accept His proposal. And thus, when He presented His project to accept the excluded, He Himself was excluded!
4) Personal questions
• Jesus joined faith in God with the social situation of His people. How do I live my faith in God?
• Where I live, are there any blind, prisoners, or oppressed? How do I treat them?
• How do I treat immigrants and foreigners? Is it with inclusion and love, or not? Do I also use “the law” to segregate people?
5) Concluding prayer
May His name be blessed for ever,
and endure in the sight of the sun.
In Him shall be blessed every race in the world,
and all nations call Him blessed. (Ps 72:17)