Luke 4:14-21 Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. 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 bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Reflection This is the “year of the Lord’s favor.” From birth to death in every breath the sacred, God, is present.
What if we really believed that? And what if we let that deeper knowledge about ourselves and our lives influence our choices and actions? I wonder if our choices and behavior would look more like Jesus who lived and breathed and found his being in relation to God and the goodness of creation?
When we consider the broad sweep of Jesus birth, ministry, suffering and death we cannot help but notice how consistently Jesus respected the value and uniqueness of each person he encountered. In all that he said and all that he did Jesus intended to actually fulfill the commands of the Hebrew tradition; the commands to give priority to loving God and all God’s people which is another way of saying, to see every aspect of life in relation with God and the goodness of creation.
How was Jesus able to do this? First and foremost, Jesus embraced his identity as the Son of God which means he found his deepest truth and direction in relation with God. Second, Jesus also identified with the troubles and the delight of friends and strangers as he said in Matthews gospel, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matt 25.40)
Which begs the question. How do we measure up? Are we living in imitation of Jesus? Are our words and actions motivated by our recognition of the sacred, God, in every aspect of life or are they motivated by fear or desire for security, safety, attention, esteem, power or control? Are we making choices and living our lives in faith that the sacred, God, suffuses every aspect of life or are we acting as if the sacred, God, is distant, disengaged and we are left to muddle through tragedies and every kind of suffering relying on our wit alone? When we come to church are we skipping through ritual motions to check the box, been there, done that? Or, do we experience our coming together as One body, the Church, an outward and visible experience of the deeper interior knowledge that we are bound and committed to the care and well-being of one another?
The brutality, greed and misuse of power that confronted Jesus continues with us today. What are we to do? Live in imitation of Jesus who lived and breathed and found his being in relation with God and compassion with suffering humanity. Jesus put his faith in God rather than himself. He understood that only when we are in conscious and conscientious relationship with the sacred mystery we call God do we know what to say and how to live.
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