A POINT OF DECISION
(A biblical reflection on the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C], 24 January 2016)
Gospel Reading: Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
First Reading: Nehemiah 8:2-6,8-10; Psalms: Psalm 19:8-10,15; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-30
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theopilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning 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 He went to the synagogue, as His custom was, on the Sabbath day. And He stood up to read; and there was given to Him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” And He closed the book, 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.” (Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21 RSV)
The Gospel of Luke invites us to listen to and learn from the word of God. We can understand the expression “word of God” in two ways. First, we understand that scripture is the word of God. At the same time, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father, is also referred to as the Word of God. By meditating on the word of God and praying to the Father (through Jesus) we can come to know the will of God for us His people.
We are invited to listen to the word of God in scripture, just as the people at the time of Nehemiah listened to the proclamation of the word of God (Nehemiah 8:2-3). After the passage was read to the Israelites and explained to them, the people wept as they realized how powerfully the words of scripture demonstrated God’s love for them.
Luke’s Gospel invites us to listen to Jesus. Luke described how Jesus read and then interpreted a passage from the prophet Isaiah one Sabbath in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-19); Isaiah 61:1-2). A point of decision came when Jesus proclaimed that the words which He had just read were being consummated in their midst: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).
According to the prophet, the anointed one sent by God was to bring “good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor” (Isaiah 61:1-2). The signs which would indicate that God had visited His people were the very signs that Jesus performed in His ministry, and about which John the Baptist heard while in prison (Luke 7:22-23). And so during the liturgy of the word in the synagogue, Jesus had proclaimed that this prophecy was being fulfilled in Himself.
Dear Sisters and Brothers, today we hear the word of God that brings good news to the poor, proclaims release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and lets the oppressed go free (Luke 4:18). How should we (you and I) respond to this? Our hearts should be filled with gratitude for this saving work of God. An appropriate response would be for us to pray: “Your words, Lord, are spirit and life” (Responsorial Psalm)
Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am so glad you are calling me to take part in building Your Kingdom! Every day is filled with excitement as I look to see how You are leading me to love others. I am grateful to be Your servant. Amen.
Jakarta, 22 January 2016
A Christian Pilgrim