Holy Spirit

 

ACTA COMMENTARY LECTIONARY

 

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C    Download >>> Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Yr C
Year of Luke

READINGS

A reading from the book of Nehemiah 8:2-6. 8-10

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 19:8-10. 15. R/. John 6:63

A reading from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians
12:12-30

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
1:1-4. 4:14-21

 

<> <> <> <>
Today’s Gospel reading is strangely unique. It consists of two quotations from the Gospel of Luke but in that Gospel they are four chapters apart. We are required to jump from the opening four sentences of the Gospel to the middle of chapter four and with no guidance as to what has been going on in between. We are invited to skip pages and pick up as if nothing had been left out. Strange - but there is method in the Lectionary’ madness.

Luke - introducing himself (1:1-4)

The first four lines of Luke’s Gospel are themselves unique. For none of the other Gospel writers talk about themselves or introduce themselves to their readers and hearers. Luke, however, begins by outlining what, as a writer, has guided him in his research. He is, moreover, not addressing his readers but his patron, the most excellent Theophilus, (whoever he might be). He is assuring Theophilus that he has made due preparations and that his ordered account will satisfy his patron that the teaching he has received is well founded.

We can learn a great deal from this prologue that we will do well to keep in mind as we make our way through this Gospel. First, Luke begins his work as did other Greek writers of his time. He starts with a formal preface of introduction. Luke is not racially or culturally a Jew. The other Gospel writers are. But he belongs to the culture for which he writes. But, of course, this means he is an outsider to the Jewish culture of Jesus, his followers, and to almost everybody else we meet in the Jesus story.

Secondly, though the first section of today’s Gospel occupies four verses of text, it is one long and very complex sentence. This is Luke the professional writer. But the rest of his Gospel is written in simpler sentences and in words and phrases take from the style we find in the Greek Septuagint. So if the opening sentence represents Luke the person presenting his credentials, the rest of his Gospel is Luke the author, creating his own vision of Jesus out of all that he has learned and come to believe. From paganism to the very heart of Judaism, Luke has made his way to God and he constructs his Gospel so that his readers and hearers may come to walk the way of the Lord. He is not writing exclusively for Theophilus; rather all who hear his words are already Christian. Luke assures his readers and hearers that what he is about to relate is the truth.

But though Luke assures his friend or patron Theophilus of the reliability of his researches and the trustworthiness of what he learned, Luke does not believe that knowing about Jesus makes a person a Christian. What Luke sets out to do after his very professional introductory sentence, is to present a picture of Jesus that will stir the human heart. At the end of Luke’s Gospel the Risen Jesus meets two despondent disciples and he walks with them. The result of their conversation is a new excitement and a deep recognition:

Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the way, while he opened to us the Scriptures
Luke 24:32

Then they told what had happened on the way, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Luke 24:35

That is what Luke hopes to achieve in the hearts and minds of all who are blessed by his words.

A reading from the book of Nehemiah 8:2-6. 8-10

Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.

And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
The word of the Lord.

 

The Book of Nehemiah makes only one contribution to our Sunday Lectionary in its three-year cycle. It choice for today seems to have been made because Ezra the priest addresses an assembly of people and Jesus addresses the synagogue of Nazareth. Are there any more profound reasons for bringing that two occasions together for our prayerful contemplation?

 

In the Hebrew Bible the Book of The Book of Nehemiah emerges out of the turmoil that accompanied the return and resettlement of exiles from Babylon after 530 B.C. and over the next hundred years. There are the constraints imposed by the Persian imperial authorities, the new rulers, including crushing taxation burdens. Jerusalem has to be rebuilt. The Temple has to be rebuilt. The faith of the people has to be rebuilt. What leaders such as Ezra, a learned scribe, and Nehemiah, a priest, were insisting on was continuity with the past, fidelity to the teaching of Moses, and worship of the God of their illustrious ancestors. What Ezra did was to stand on a wooden platform as Moses stood on Mount Sinai, the people were gathered around in eager expectation, and Ezra spoke to them as did Moses in the distant past. The drama of the situation was deliberate and meant to draw on the past to create a new future. The joy of the people at hearing the Torah of Moses, God’s holy Teaching, proclaimed to them is the solid foundation a new hope, and new energised faith.

The reading from Nehemiah today is meant to prepare us for what Jesus does in the Gospel reading. He, too, recalls the past in order to establish a new future.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 19:8-10. 15. R/. John 6:63

 

R/. Your works are spirit, Lord,
And they are life.

The precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the rule of the Lord is to be trusted;
it gives wisdom to the simple. R/.

The rules of the Lord are true,
and gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear;
It gives light to the eyes. R/.

 

The fear of the Lord is holy,
Abiding forever.
The decrees of the Lord are truth,
and of them just. R/.

Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord,
my rock and my redeemer.

R/. Your works are spirit, Lord,
And they are life.

Psalm 19 is prayed during the early morning liturgy on each Sabbath and on holy days. The psalm opens with a hymn about creation (v.1: The heavens proclaim the glory of God). Then, in verses 8-11 the hymn turn to the Torah, the God’s holy Teaching, and sings its praises. Such is the Torah’s concern and care of even the simplest of people, it gives them true wisdom and is light to guide their life. It is a light to lead to all truth. What the embrace of God’s Teaching does is to create “fear of the Lord”.

“Fear of the Lord” is a phrase that occurs throughout the Bible and it is a phrase that requires considerable delicacy to understand what it means. First, it does not mean “be afraid of God”. In fact, the phrase “Do not be afraid” occurs over 365 times in the Bible, one for each day of the year. A few sentences from the psalms will help us to see matters more clearly:

The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Psalm 147:8

“Fear” is not a cowering in trembling before God. It is a hope (always a fragile human condition) that one’s faith is strong enough utterly to believe that our hope is anchored in God’s love.

 

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
Psalm 33:8

The earth’s people are asked to believe that creation belongs to God and humanity is its caretakers. “All the earth fears the Lord” when its people exercise due care and responsibility.

The matter of “fear of the Lord” is beautifully set in place in the closing lines of Psalm 33:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you
Psalm 33:18-22

 

A reading from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians
12:12-30

 

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honourable we bestow the greater honour, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honour to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

The word of the Lord.

 

Back again to St Paul’s Letter to Corinthians that formed our second reading last week. There Paul pointed out that each little Christian community is gifted with many talents, many signs that the Holy Spirit is at work providing for the needs of the community. Different gifts are given to different people so that the needs of all are satisfied and the ability of the little church to be church is fully realised.

Today Paul continues the same theme. To begin with, we again realise that Paul is writing to his house-churches in and around Corinth. He addresses his letter to “the church of God that is in Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2). He is not addressing The Church Universal. Indeed, Paul never does so. The many parts and many gifts are what make up the local church. This local church (we might want to call it a parish) is Christ’s body.

Paul uses this metaphor to express as best he can what he believes to be the very essence of what it means to be ‘church”. He uses the analogy to express the reality of Christian existence. The community of Christian believers is a living reality, a unity of being and purpose, totally immersed in the Risen Lord. Baptism, always by immersion in the earliest communities, was about leaving off the old and entering into the new, a new life in Christ, sustained by the creative presence of the Holy Spirit.

A word on 12:28, a sentence that is regarded by scholars as a minefield, from the point of translation and how we are to understand what Paul means. Why are these three ministries at the head of all others? The reading above translates thus:

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers …

The danger here is to jump immediately to our understanding of these functions in the Church and churches of our time. To be sure, our understanding over the centuries has deepened and developed into various offices in our Church and churches. Not all developments have been for the best. Paul, on the other hand, is concerned with the wellbeing of house-churches in Corinth (1Crinthisans 16:19). He wants to ensure that these little communities are all that they must be, if they are to do as he does. That is, he wants them to be effective proclaimers of the gospel of God.

I would suggest that Paul sets out these three - apostles, prophets, teachers – as the most important activities in proclamation of God’s gospel. Apostles are those called by God to be the vanguard, the pathfinders of God in the world. They bring the good news to the heart of the world and begin the process of opening the world to the voice of God.

Paul uses the word “prophets” only in this letter (11:4-5; 13:9; 14:1-5; 14:31; 14:35; 14:39). As instruments of proclamation, prophets are the animators of the local church. Prophets are the voices of encouragement; they read the signs of the times and alert God’s people to opportunities and trial to come. It is the prophets in a community that keep the community on its toes. They are, to use an image found in the Psalms and in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, “watchmen, watching over the house of Israel”. The watchmen in our churches are the ones who watch out for the people in the darkness of the night and enliven them to the dawning of new opportunities, new challenges, and new nudges from God as to where the future is to be found and embraced.

Teachers were an essential in the littlest of our churches. They teach and explain what it is that God has done and is doing in the world through the life, death, and resurrection on Jesus. They outline, they explain, they interpret, and they apply all that we mean by “the word of the Lord”. From the beginning, women were essential in the God-ordained ministry of teaching. Men could not enter a household and speak to the women. Women were essential in pre-baptism and post-baptism instruction. Without God’s setting women teachers, as well as men, as foundational proclaimers in the little churches of St Paul and those founded by other apostles, the Christian enterprise could not have succeeded. Look at Paul’s Letter to Roman Christians, chapter 16. This contains a list of at least 25 people to whom Paul sends greetings. Specifically, he mentions friends who were active in the service of the gospel. Of these, seven are women (Prisca, Mary, Junia, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis, and Rufus’s mother). Five are men (Aquila, Andronicus, Urbanus, Apelles and Rufus).

Pope Francis expresses what Paul means to teach in his letter to very contentious house-churches of Christians in Corinth:

In all the baptized, from first to last, the sanctifying power of the Spirit is at work, impelling us to evangelization.
Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel §119.

 

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
1:1-4. 4:14-21

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
And he 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 favour.”

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”.
The Gospel of the Lord.

The second part of today’s Gospel presents Jesus standing up to read in the synagogue in Nazareth, the village in which he had been reared. He reads from the prophet Isaiah and applies these words to himself as the one anointed by God to proclaim “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”.

Who is this man?

Who is this man? The people in Nazareth’s synagogue will have their say. But what of the people for whom Luke wrote his Gospel? What were Luke’s first readers and hearers to make of this man? How did they understand the man who stood up to read from the scroll of Isaiah amidst the synagogue of Nazareth? Above, how were they to realise that the Jesus who spoke in Nazareth was the Jesus who spoke to them? And how are we today to regard the man who unrolled the scroll?

What we who listen to his words today must do is to gather together all that we have read and heard before we have stood to listen to what Jesus read and said in his village synagogue. We must go back to Luke’s first chapters and read and pray our way until we come to the Sabbath Day in Nazareth.

This is what we have been told by heavenly voices:

Mary learns that the child to be called Jesus “will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. He will sit on the throne of David his father. He will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever. Of his kingdom there will be no end. He will be called holy. He will be called Son of God.
- From Luke 1:31-35.

The shepherds learn that a Saviour “has been born unto you”. The Saviour is Messiah. The saviour is Lord. In him God brings peace on earth. Simeon, destined not to die until his eyes see the Lord’s Messiah, filled with the Holy Spirit, took the child in his arms “for his eyes have seen God’s Salvation, prepared for all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory to your people Israel. Anna was inspired to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
From Luke 2-8 - 2:40.

From John the Baptist, the one sent to prepare the way of the Lord, Luke’s readers and hearers learn that all flesh shall see the salvation of God. They learn from John that he himself is not the Christ, the Messiah. Rather a mightier one is coming who will baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire. When John baptised Jesus, readers and hearers learn that the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove. A voice came from heaven and declared “You are my Beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”.
- From Luke 3:1 - 3:22.

Luke informs his readers that Jesus was about thirty years old when “he made his coming out”. This Jesus belongs to humanity, a son of Adam, but no less than the Son of God.
- From Luke 3:23-38.

This Jesus is all that we have gleaned from three chapters insisting on who he is and what his purposes are. Yet the Holy Spirit leads him into the desert for forty days being tested by the devil. The confrontation between Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, and the devil reveals that he is Son of God, totally committed to the ancient faith of his people: “You shall worship the LORD your God and him only shall you serve”. That, too, is part of the portrait. The third testing on the pinnacle of the Temple expresses what we have come to know. In testing who Jesus is and what he is to do, is to put God himself to the test. Ominously, we learn that though the devil has quit the field, his day is not done. The devil departs until an opportune time. What Jesus does is to return to Galilee “in the power of the Spirit” (how may times have we been told so far that Jesus is empowered by the Spirit?). The whole country heard of him as he went around teaching “in their synagogues, being glorified by all”.
-From Luke 4:1-15

All that we have seen, all that we have heard, all that we have come to believe about this man is the portrait we carry with us when this man stood up to read in the synagogue in Nazareth. Of course, those who first listened to Jesus did not know what the first Christians to hear and read what Luke wrote knew. We, too, are the privileged ones. So while who Jesus was and what his vocation was, was not realised by the Nazareth community that tried to kill him, those Christians who first heard Luke will have known that his rejection in Nazareth may be his first rejection. But it will, they well know, will not be the last.

The Reading and its meaning

Jesus stood up to read. The book of Isaiah the prophet is handed to him and he found the place “where was written” the passage he proclaims. What Jesus does is to quote a passage from Isaiah and apply it to himself.

First, as we have been told several times already, the Spirit of the LORD God is upon Jesus (3:22; 4:1; 4:14). God has anointed him (at his baptism - 3:22), as the ancient prophets were anointed to their calling. Anointing with precious oils always signified a calling to and confirmation of a divine vocation. The words of Isaiah speak of one to come who not only announces salvation but embodies it.

What is essential to grasp is that Luke has Jesus declare who he is and what he is for. He is the one christened by God and commissioned to do what God demands. What Luke has done is to provide in the clearest terms what it is that Jesus is called to do in God’s name. What is announced in Nazareth is a programme that we will see carried out in the details of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as narrated in the Gospel according to St Luke.

The first and foundational task of the Messiah is to gospel the poor. Luke does not write “to proclaim the good news to the poor” - who might take or leave it. What Jesus must do, as Luke’s verb underlines, is to gospel the poor, to thrown his arms around the poor, to embrace them with the love, the mercy, and the compassion of God. The verb “to gospel” does not mean to deliver a package. It means actively to embrace the poor in the name of God. And Luke never gives the idea that Jesus is concerned with “the poor in spirit”. For Jesus, for Luke, the poor are those at the bottom and, therefore, it is the poor that are of first concern. As Jesus declares, “Blessed are the poor” (6:20). Full stop. As Luke puts it in 4:43 Jesus declares this to be the very essence of all that he is called to do:

It is necessary that I gospel the kingdom of God in the other cities - for I was sent for that purpose.
Luke 4:43

If the world’s poor is to be gospelled, then liberty must be announced to captives. “Captives” are slaves, people for whatever reason, are locked into the power of other people.
In a world where there is only one industry - agriculture - everything depends on the possession and fruitful use of land. It was all too easy for peasant farmers to be reduced to abject poverty by a bad harvest, by increases in crippling taxation, or by the necessity to borrow from wealthy neighbours or moneylenders. In such cases whole families could be reduced to slavery, either for a time or forever and a day. It is this kind of captivity that Isaiah and Jesus and Luke abhor and it is for this reason that God insists liberty must be the order of the day.
The blind must be sighted - and we shall see Jesus opening the eyes of the blind. The programme recommended by the God of Jesus is this:

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.
Luke 14:13

In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.
Luke 7:21-22

The story of Blind Bartimaeus (Luke 18:35-43) is a story of the love of God brought to earth by Jesus of Nazareth.

Indeed, all who are oppressed in any way must be freed. For it is in the liberation of people from torment that the time of God will truly have come to the world. The liberation programme outlined in the text from Isaiah and so the basis of the Jesus programme is God’s programme. It is the programme of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the programme to which every Christian is anointed. To be baptised is to embrace the vocation of Jesus and to answer the call of God.
Yet it is not a new programme. When the people of Israel were, by God’s power, liberated from Egyptian slavery, they were led by God to a land flowing with milk and honey. When the former slaves entered the land, each family and tribe were to receive a portion of God’s gift. There was to be no return to slavery. God’s gift of freedom and independence from poverty were to be constant signs of God’s deliverance and God’s determination that the children of those who were once slaves should never be enslaved.

The Bible, in a number of passages, tried to enforce the great liberation that God demanded should be forever at the heart of Israel’s faith. These passages acknowledge that such a world of freedom is unlikely to endure in the face of human avarice and humanity’s insatiable desire for more and more possessions.

Since God was/is the creator/owner of the world, then God’s rule must be supreme. But faced with human evil, God must seek to undo the consequences of sin. Moses is told to insist that there be a containment of slavery:

Now these are the rules that you [Moses] shall set before them [the people of Israel]. When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has broken faith with her. If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.
Exodus 21:1-11

There are numerous passages that insist that slavery and such captivity of people be undone:

For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the beasts of the field may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.
Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.
Exodus 23:10-11

But God’s advice and counsel never became a fact of life and the poor never received the concern God sought to enforce. Even the attempt outlined in the Book of Leviticus, for all its high-sounding grandeur, never became more than an ideal and remained an unfulfilled dream:

The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years you shall sow and gather in its fruits, but in the seventh year there the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and for your hired worker and the sojourner who lives with you, and for your cattle and for the wild animals that are in your land: all its yield shall be for food.
Leviticus 25:1-7

 

What God demanded was this:

But there will be no poor among you; for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess— if only you will strictly obey the voice of the Lord your God …
Deuteronomy 15:4-5

However, the truest and saddest words in the Bible remain forever true and the remedy forever unfulfilled:

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land …’
Deuteronomy 15:11

Yet in the synagogue of Nazareth Luke has Jesus declare his programme in terms of the ancient Jubilee ideal. What is heard in Nazareth will be seen in Jesus as the pages of Luke unfold. The ancient ideal gives direction and purpose to Luke’s portrait of Jesus and, therefore, to the portrait of a Christian baptised into the cause of Christ. Watch this space.

The Gospel today ends in an extraordinary claim:

And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”.
Luke 4:21

The word ‘today’ occurs 13 times in Luke’s Gospel and in his Acts of the Apostles. Mostly it does not mean simply “today”. It means ‘The Day of the Lord’, ‘The time that Jesus is with you’, ‘Today, the time of Salvation’. Luke quotes Psalm 2 in his Acts assure his readers and hearers that God has fulfilled his purposes “by raising Jesus”:

“You are my Son,
Today I have begotten you”.
Acts 13:33

When Jesus invites himself into the home of Zacchaeus (Luke19:1-10), he comments on what happened there:

Today salvation has come to this house.

That is the same day as the “today” in Nazareth’s synagogue. With Jesus in our world it is always a day of salvation.

Joseph O’Hanlon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please Login to post comments