Pastoral Message – January 23, 2022
Have you ever felt or heard God in the deepest core of your being inviting you to be his disciple? Perhaps you personally felt the significance of the words: “You are the one I choose today to bring good news to the poor and oppressed. The Holy Spirit is upon you. I am sending you!” These statements reveal to us who Christ is and who we are in him as members of his body, the Church.
In today’s Gospel reading, Luke is divided into two separate passages. First, we hear the opening verses where Luke establishes the purpose of his Gospel. In this passage, we learn that Luke may have written to a specific person, Theophilus; but the name Theophilus may also be a general reference, functioning as the phrase “Dear Reader” in contemporary writing. In Greek, the word Theophilus translates as “lover of God.” Second, Luke begins his account of the life and works of Jesus. In this passage, Jesus went to Nazareth where he had grown up. He arrived there on the Sabbath and He immediately went to the synagogue. In this account, we learn that Jesus lived as a faithful, observant Jew, according to the Jewish custom.
As we hear, Jesus picked up the scroll from the prophet Isaiah, unrolled it, and read a passage from the prophet Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me and sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to free the oppressed, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Jesus then handed the scroll to the attendant and looked intently at the people. Then with great conviction Jesus said: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Through this text from Isaiah, Jesus announces God’s salvation. The “year acceptable to the Lord” is a reference to the Jewish tradition of Sabbath years and jubilee. It was a year of rest when land was left fallow and food stores were to be shared equally with all. A year of Jubilee was celebrated every fiftieth year, it was a year of renewal in which debts were forgiven and slaves were freed.
Today, Jesus invites us to share in his ministry. He has anointed us and sent us to “proclaim liberty to captives, give sight to the blind, free the oppressed and proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” This is our call no matter who we are. Jesus empowers us to heal and to preach His Word. We may not have the ability to “free” every captive; however, if we love one another unconditionally, our love and care may “free” a person of their loneliness or despair. Or perhaps, we may help “lift” someone’s oppression of body, mind or spirit. We are not Jesus, but Jesus has commissioned us to be his disciples on this earth. As his disciples, we are called to share the good news and help anyone who is in need.
Today, let us be attentive to hear God’s invitation. Also, let us strive to open the minds and hearts of those unchurched individuals who yearn to see God. Help lift someone’s burden of mind, body and spirit. You and I are called to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. Doing so, we may give a simple and everlasting gift to a persons who is in need.