The Gospel of the Day – 2016.01.24 (Sunday)
Purpose and Witness
Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have taken place among us, exactly as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus, so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received.
Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.
He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up.
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.
He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ (NJB)
Something happened in Palestine, something happened in old Judea, a movement began in Galilee, and spread throughout the world.
The Gospel of Saint Luke purports to have been written by Luke, who was physician, and a follower of the sainted Apostle Paul. Together Luke and Paul brought the “good news” to the diaspora, and to the gentiles. In the good news, there was hope, and trust and love; it was the blue print for a community that was not of this earth, in it was the promise of salvation.
Luke’s Gospel, however, was not written by a man named Luke, it was written by the community he formed, decades after his passing, and it was not dedicated to a man named Theophilus, but to all of God’s children, everywhere.
This passage tells us of the beginning of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth; a Jewish man who taught in synagogues, as his followers would do in later years. He was a Jew of the diaspora. People called him Rabbi, this marked him as a Pharisee, a teacher of the law.
Jesus taught in the prophetic tradition. He exhorted people to action, he performed works of service, and he told the truth as if it had descended on him like the Spirit of God.
Any of us who have taken on the work of carrying the mantle of Christ; we must adhere closely to the central point of this reading:
Our ministry is to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives, to restore sight to the blind, and to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the jubilee (a year of favor, the forgiveness of debts).
This is working is never done, even though it is fulfilled every day.
As long as the world endures, this ministry will need to be proclaimed, the year of God’s favor, the jubilee; that year never ends. It is God’s year, it is eternal.
If you envision yourself as a servant of God, then you must be a servant of the people; there is no other way to serve God. Your teaching must be joyful, and full of hope.
If you are going to proclaim liberty to the captives, you must set people free. In the time of Christ the captives he spoke of were the populations of people who had been taken from their homes as the spoils of war. The Romans called these people servi, servus meaning servant, meaning slave. The slave economy of the ancient world does not look the same today as it did then, but there are hundreds of millions of people living in servitude, without rights, without recourse to the law. If you follow in the footsteps of Jesus, you must call for justice, and the freeing of these people.
You must restore sight to the blind, which is to say you must convince the rulers of the world, and their armies, the powers that be; you must convince them that there is other way to peace, and security than for them to relinquish their power, give up their wealth in order to foster justice for all. The blind are the world’s elite, the 1%, and the only cure for their blindness is the truth.
This is how you will set the downtrodden free, forgive their debts, not just once every seven years, but now and forever.
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time