The Good News for the Day, August 29, 2022
Monday of the Twenty-second Week of Ordinary Time (431)
The Setting: Nazareth, the Hometown
Jesus came back to Nazareth, his hometown, where he had grown up. He went as usual into his synagogue on the Sabbath day. When He stood up to read, he was handed a scroll of Prophet Isaiah. He opened it and found the place where it was written:
The spirit of the LORD God has overwhelmed me with an anointing for me to bring good news to poor people. He has sent me to announce amnesty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to enable oppressed person to go free—and to proclaim a beneficial and different year of the Lord.
Closing the Bible, he handed it back to the attendant, then sat down. The eyes of everybody in the place were paying attention to Him.
He said, “What you have just heard in this biblical passage finds fulfillment this very day!”
Now, everybody was admiring his goodness, impressed at the inspiring eloquence coming from his mouth.
People were saying, “Isn’t he the son of Joseph?” He answered, “Surely, you’re going to quote me that saying, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ and add, ‘Do things here at home that we’ve heard you were doing in Capernaum.'” He said “Here’s the truth. No prophet is accepted at home. In fact, I’ll remind you there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when it did not rain for three and a half years. An awful famine gripped the land. It wasn’t to any of the other widows, though, that Elijah was sent, but just to a widow in Zarephath over in Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of prophet Elisha. Not one of them was cleansed–just Naaman from Syria.
When the synagogue worshipers heard this, they got very angry. They became a mob, hauled him out of town, and brought him to the cliff on which their town had been built, to toss him over it. But he went right through them, however, and walked away.” (Luke 4) [my understanding]
Reflections of the Words of Jesus
To change from childhood to adulthood, at some moment or gradually, a person will stand up for a truth that “I” believe in. You discover your own self, a humanity distinct from the rest of humanity, a person in your own right, an individual.
Such a moment may be memorable, or a very quiet one no one really notices, except you. It marks your “anointing with the Spirit.” Anointing–“Messiah” in Hebrew–is a sign coming to a person from outside to show a turning point between an individual and the world. Such a word and action marks a graduation, a changed soul. This passage from common to special makes a public statement–of rising to a position of responsible leadership. It indicates responsibility and authority at some level. Anointing says a person is there to be themselves and thereby influence others – to change the world around them. To Be a Transformer.
In any case, you step away from under the influences you grew up with. “Anointing” may be the word to describe the moment you discover your passion. Or the realization you have fallen in love or in some other way to discover your independence. You loosen links with your family in spiritual ways. A child playing games on her phone may decide not to respond to a mother – and realize she has become a different person.
At that moment, you may realize confrontation lies ahead of you. A series of battles are going to follow your decision and the change in your character. Not completely realizing and appreciating everything that is to come, a person chooses to mature into an adult with a certain spiritual courage.
The Anointing of Jesus for His Task
This gospel message sketches the start of adult and public life for the individual, Jesus. The baptism with the John had transformed him and his personality. In some unique way, Jesus now appreciated how much He was the child of the God of Israel. You and I can only watch from the outside. We see, however, that after his baptism, and his temptations in the desert, Jesus started talking His Heart to people courageously.
His goodness started flowing out of his mouth. Understanding of fulfillment became his message, and His message is basically liberation. Liberation includes, in this case, all the meanings of sin that Hebrew tradition had accumulated – not just moral, as we think it, but everything wrong with the world. Any kind of oppression of one by another, a fear that imprisons, the poverty when spirit is absent, the blindness of self-centeredness – those are sins that you and I need to be liberated from.
The mission responsibility of Jesus is to free the world – not in any military, economic, social, medical or political way. No, this spirit has anointed him to awaken people to the love which has created them. Jesus is trying help people see the love for everyone that happens when we see God is love. All these other features of society change, once Jesus can alert people to the significance of love in our world.
The Importance Here
The hostility here at Nazareth reminds you and me that this message, to love one another, faces hurricane winds of “this is how we have always done it.” “Do not rock the boat.” The necessary self-denial, the disconnection from blood family, the change friends find uncomfortable lead to the Way of the cross. The message that involves forgiveness, equality, prayer, grief, and mercy to all is not a welcome one for many.
Yet Jesus says–and it is–liberation that loving brings. Abraham Lincoln mentioned once that slavery enslaves both slave and master. Project that into the larger world. So much enslaves a person who tries to be independent. How enslaved to outside influences is someone not reflective! Society Society enslaves a person who tries to ignore or avoid the personal world around them.
This gospel writer use this passage to describe the inaugural mission of Jesus. It is also addressed to each supporter and believer. Here, the anointing Jesus speaks of aims to commission Jesus and you and me. We are to end sin by liberating people with love and laughter.