The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
January 27, 2019 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
Over these first weeks in January, on successive Sundays we have been hearing about various “firsts” in the life of Jesus. His first miracle was described last week at the wedding feast at Cana. The week before we were informed of his first awareness of being loved by God. And this week we hear described his first liturgical act, which happened is home town of Nazareth.
I present here part of the words from Isaiah that Jesus read at the synagogue in Nazareth, a reference to the hoped-for Messiah. According to Isaiah this person would be filled with God’s Spirit and would (1) bring glad tidings to the poor, (2) liberty to captives, (3) sight to the blind and (4) freedom for those who are oppressed. Certainly, all those who heard these words, then and now, would be in favor of all this happening. And they would also be alert to judge whether they were happening.
One way to determine this would be understand them literally. For instance, were poor people made happier? Were those in prison given their freedom? Were blind people now seeing? Were those oppressed by life’s challenges freed from fear and anxiety. In other words, most all those situations that limited people in their lives would suddenly be disappear. “Good times” would arrive.
Looking back to the time of Jesus we would have to admit that not much of that happened. We know from many gospel passages that many were disappointed in Jesus. He did not “deliver the goods,” as some hoped he would. That’s one reason why many were hoping for a “second coming.” They expected more. They wanted God to do more.
That’s where they went wrong. Jesus did not come to us to do all the work. Rather, his message was to show us how to do all those wonderful things mentioned by Isaiah. We were to take care of the poor so that hey would experience some of the gladness of life. We were to free those imprisoned by fear and hurt. We were to help others see the wonders of God’s creation. We are to find the oppressed around us (or anywhere in the world) and lift the oppression from their lives. We do this within our families, where we work, in our neighborhoods and anywhere in the world where there is suffering. God’s Kingdom is created by God’s assistance (grace) generously given, but given with God’s expectation that we do our part in bringing about God’s kingdom, one act of service and love at a time. Our time!
© David M. Thomas, PhD