Jesus’ inauguration … and ours as disciples and Vincentians
Matthew 4:12-23, the gospel text appointed for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany (C), is Matthew’s record of the inauguration of Jesus.
- We have his inaugural address – one line: “Repent (change your way of thinking), for the kingdom of heaven has come near,”
- the formation of his Cabinet – the calling of the first disciples;
- and the beginning of his work: he went throughout Galilee, “proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.”
This inauguration gives hope to all even in its Twitter-like brevity.
But there is another version of his inaugural. And it is calling all to action. Our discipleship is inaugurated as well… as is our Vincentian discipleship.
The reading for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany (B) is taken from Luke chapter 4. Jesus is speaking in the synagogue at Nazareth, and in a way, we can call it his inaugural address. For Jesus has just recently been inaugurated into his office as the Messiah. When was that, you say? At his baptism, which we read about in Luke chapter 3. Yes, at his baptism, Jesus was publicly authorized and affirmed to take up his office as the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ. The Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove, showing that God’s anointing, favor, choice, blessing, and power were resting on just this one, Jesus of Nazareth. And the Father’s voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” This divine attestation was as though Jesus were being inaugurated into his office, to bring in the kingdom of heaven here on earth.
And so here in Luke 4, we hear Jesus saying what this will look like. What will Jesus’ ministry as the Messiah entail? What does he intend to do? What are his plans and priorities? Jesus tells us, in very direct and succinct terms. And he quotes Scripture to do so:
“[Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
“And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
Vincent clearly heard Jesus’ call … and responded!
Have we heard Jesus’ inaugural address as something addressed to us as Vincentians?
Cycle A has yet another version. Mark 1:14-20
Take your pick
Homiletic sources for further reflection