Luke tells us that Jesus began his public ministry in his own land of Galilee where he was raised as a child. Just think about it for a moment Jesus’ first public words in his hometown synagogue amazed both his family and townspeople. I wonder do these same words amaze us in the here and now of today because more often than not they are an accurate description of what we are and what we are not in our modern world. In the time of Jesus It was customary for the president of the synagogue to call on different people each week to read from the Hebrew bible and say a few words. Jesus read the text from the prophet Isaiah that explained how the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those oppressed by sin and evil (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus told his audience that he himself had been anointed to fulfil this prophecy.
Now the way Jesus works today in 2013 is through his mystical body, the church that is through you and me in our own time and place. Through each of us and all who are baptized into his body, Jesus strives still to live out his mission, bringing good news to those who don’t have any, setting free those chained in captivity, opening the eyes of the blind, helping the oppressed and exploited find their life, and unrolling the floor plan that sets out God’s reign where justice and peace prevail.
Jesus did these things while he walked upon the earth and still does these things, because we his church do them. The poor gain hope, whether it’s their souls or their bodies that are starved. The captives experience freedom, whether they are prisoners in a jail or prisoners in a mansion and there are many more types of prisoners than these. The blind receive sight, whether it’s cataract surgery at the local hospital or the scales of prejudice falling off the eyes of a bigot. The oppressed are set free, whether oppression is a political regime or a chemical dependence of any sort. When Jesus read that passage in the Nazareth synagogue, he announced a mission statement for himself and for us members of the church.
As we strive to keep faithful to those words Jesus read aloud in the synagogue and lived out in his life, let us remember the words he said relating them to ourselves and our lives.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon us.
The Spirit of the Lord has anointed us to bring and be good news to the poor.
The Spirit of the Lord has sent us to proclaim release to the captives and there are many more captives in our world of today
The Spirit of the Lord has sent us to help the blind recover their sight and that may be physical or maybe even spiritual.
The Spirit of the Lord has sent us to free the oppressed.
The Spirit of the Lord has sent us to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and for those of us who are Catholic we have our year of faith. But the year of the Lord’s favour is open to all who will accept it.
Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in our hearing and seeing through Christ the Lord. Amen.