January 6, 2011 Thursday after Epiphany Gospel and Reflection

Mass Readings for today are here

Gospel Luke 4 : 14-22
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region. 


He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,

and went according to his custom

into the synagogue on the sabbath day. 

He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. 

He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was 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.

Painting above by James Tissot

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.

He said to them,

“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.


Whenever I read this passage it strikes me how pathetic my own response to this has been in my life. How so many of us, me included, have become complacent and how often does our response seem devoid of  enthusiasm and life? 
Mahatma Ghandi said 
“You Christians have in your keeping a document with enough dynamite in it to blow the whole of civilization to bits...” How true ! 
The paradox is that we thirst and hunger for the truth and when it is there we just don't know how to deal with it.

Jesus stands up in the synagogue of his hometown of Nazareth and proclaims the prophecy of Isaiah four centuries before him concerning the coming of the Messiah. 
Then he announces that He is the Messiah, the "anointed" one.

As Christians, Fr. Ron Rolheiser says, we believe that God took on flesh in Jesus, but we also believe that this was not just a one-shot, 33-year incursion, of God into human history.  The mystery of the Incarnation is still going on now and God is still taking on real flesh inside of us, the community of believers.

Although the initial reaction to this blunt and audacious declaration was said to be wonderment “at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth,” if you continue reading on in this passage from Luke  his further words produced the opposite reaction.
They also said, “But this is Joseph’s son, right?
After these stunning words  they can't reconcile the present with their past memories and prejudices. 
They are trapped by their circumstances and their narrow vision and lack of courage to believe.They flip from astonishment to bewilderment then scepticism and finally anger .
Jesus knew they were not going to grasp it, saying  "a prophet is never accepted in his own country "
They then drove Jesus outside the city, leading him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, intending to throw him over the edge. 
But he made his way between them and left.
My prayer is that my actions this year will be open to the Holy Spirit and "will be acceptable to the Lord."

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