Jesus is Good News to the poor. To be such news is his program as the One that the Father has anointed with the Holy Spirt and sent.
True to what the voice from heaven told him at his baptism, the Son takes up the Servant’s program. We heard two Sundays ago that such program was to set up justice on earth gently and firmly.
And today, Luke’s gospel cites the Servant’s program as the latter takes it. It is Jesus who finds and reads it (Is 61, 1-2). And what he does at the synagogue in Nazareth is told in detail. No doubt, the details highlight the great importance of the program that he makes his own.
In fact, all in the synagogue are all eyes and ears; they are full of expectation. For news about him has spread throughout Galilee and people have spoken well of him. Is he a match to the fame and the praises? But those that are there could also be wondering about his leaving out “vengeance” in his reading of the text.
Maybe they think that they are in a way like those Isaiah addressed. And like those who were at the reading of the Law that Ezra led. For like those who knew the woes of the exiles in Babylon, they also groan under the heavy yoke of Rome. Does it bother them that Jesus has left out vengeance?
But his comment on the text is no more than, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” No more, no less. He thus makes known to us his program. And he shows at the same time that there is no vengeful bone in his body. Hence, there is no place for revenge in his program.
Program of option for the poor, friend and foe, come what may
Jesus Christ is option for the poor, the captives, the blind, and fellowship with those on the outskirts, in the flesh. And he chooses them for no other reason than that they are poor, captives, blind, oppressed. That is to say, for God to reign, he has to root out all that goes against his being the Father who seeks the good of all his children. Hence, Christians, those who bear the name Christ, the Messiah or Anointed One, are to go to the poor.
To go to the poor is to find God (SV.EN IX:199. 252). And to find too “the first of the poor, the poorest of the poor” (SV.EN XI:26).
It is to find out also that we rely wholly on God, that no one can be poorer than us. And yes, not rarely, those who are not loveable are the ones that make us see that we are sinful and weak. And so, as Pope Francis does not tire of saying, “the poor are true evangelizers.” They help us to stay simple, humble and open to what lies outside and ahead (SV.EN XII:81). That is why we will ask humbly time and again, “Lord, if you were in my place, what would you do?” (SV.EN XI:314).
Lord Jesus, we admit before the Father that we are weak (SV.EN IX:284). And we ask him to give us, through your merits, the grace to be true to your program by the strength of your Spirit. Make us live by your word and by your flesh and blood. For if we are not fed nor feed others so, we will perish.
23 January 2022
3rd Sunday in O.T. (C)
Neh 8, 2-4a. 5-6. 8-10; 1 Cor 12, 12-30; Lk 1, 1-4; 4, 14-21
Thanks, Ross. Loved the quotes from Pope Francis…
Thank very much, Tom. It makes me happy to know that you do go to the references I make in my reflections.
I hope others do the same, since I see what I share as no more than an echo, albeit faint, of what those I refer to say. They have a much firmer grasp of the Gospel and life than I, and so they express better, more simply and convincingly the insights I only glean from them.