THIRD SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME 2019
In the Gospel today, Jesus makes the connection in the Torah reading from Isaiah prophesying what the Messiah would do and that he, Jesus, is the one described in this Scripture passage. Isaiah had written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. (Isaiah 61:1-2)
When Jesus reads this passage from Isaiah, he does so in a way that the Jews, hearing the words, realize a different meaning than they ever considered. The synagogue anxiously awaits the explanation that would coincided with the dramatic sensations felt during Jesus’ reading. Most unexpectedly, Jesus confirms that he is the one referred to in the reading saying, “These words have been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)
The Jewish people were expectant for the coming Messiah. The long-awaited promise from God was interpreted that the Messiah would restore Israel to independence free from Rome and that other nations would be respective because Israel was God’s chosen ones, his favored children. The Jews imagined that the Messiah would return Israel to a land of milk and honey.
The quote from Isaiah speaks of the redemption for the poor, those imprisoned, the blind and those without hope. The Messiah must be indeed great in his promise to bring relief to all those who are in physical need. However, sometimes one reads too literally this passage and expects Jesus to eliminate all of one’s earthly discomforts, while, in reality, Isaiah’s prophecy was us to prepare for the promise of salvation.
Although many hoped the Messiah had come, Jesus needed to prove the words “These words have been fulfilled in your hearing,” which he did through miracles. Then, as now, not everyone believed him even after observing a miracle. Many disbelieved because Jesus did not come with the message that they wanted, which was to create heaven here on earth. Others, who listened to the words, saw the miracles and believed, recognized that any effort achieving perfection will not be found here but only in heaven. The miracle of healing that Jesus used and continues to use demonstrates that he is still within in our midst proving that he loves never dissipates.
As we know Jesus did not come necessarily to bring about a physical restoration. Although in his love for us he at times brings healing to those with afflictions, he primarily comes to save our souls that suffer from the ravages of sin. Jesus comes to bring good news to the poor in spirit. He comes to free those imprisoned by sin. He comes to reveal the light of salvation to those who walk in the devil’s darkness. He comes to dispel the hopelessness of those who see no future because of their deplorable condition.
Jesus’ works, because we are Christians, become our works of mercy. No person is capable of meeting every need. While we individually cannot be all things to all people, we still have a role to take up to assist in the salvation of the world. The second reading this week reminds us, different parts of the body have different essential responsibilities collectively enables the whole body to function optimally. The eye does not have the capabilities of the ear. The hand cannot support the weight of the body like the foot. In the same one person cannot be the whole Church. We, as the body of Christ, have specific roles that accomplish the Church’s role in salvation. Once we truly believe and live the life as the body of Christ, we will then be able to fully comprehend the words Jesus gave us.
“Act on this word. If all you do is listen, you are deceiving your selves. There is on the other hand, the man who peers into freedom’s ideal law and abides by it. He is no forgetful listener, but one who carries out the law in practice. Blest will this man be in whatever he does.” (James 1:22, 25)
Deacon Dan Gilbert