01.23.2022 Third Sunday in Ordinary Time


All Saints Church

Swansea

(Circa 1860)


This three-light window contains a single scene spanning the width of the window.

Christ stands at the centre, his hand raised and a scroll in his other hand, with hearers at either side, some seated and holding scrolls.

Above we see angels in trefoils and the ICH monogram.

The text across the lower part of the window reads:

‘He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor’.

(Luke 4:18)



Lectio


Luke 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21

1“Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

14Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16When 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, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

18‘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,

19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’.

20And 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. 21Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’”.


Meditatio

Context

The purpose of Luke’s Gospel

Saint Luke wrote a single book with two main Chapters: The Gospel; and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles.


He makes “an orderly account” of the life of Jesus, which is not a stringing together of anecdotes or random notes. This account is not a collection of events that happened one after the other in the order of time. He uses rather a “logic sequence”[1].


Therefore, the aim of the Gospel is to show how God has brought about redemption. Luke wants to elicit faith and invites his audience to respond to his narrative with faith. The core message, as it is for any of the other Gospels, is centred on the Paschal mystery, the Kerygma, the kernel of Christian Faith: The Death and Resurrection of Christ.


Introduction to the Public Ministry of Jesus

The liturgical text we are considering today includes the initial verses of the Gospel as a prelude to the Public Ministry of Jesus.


Theophilus, literally “the one who loves God” could be either Luke’s patron, he who supports the enterprise of writing the Gospel; or it could mean the Christian Community, a wider audience which needs upbuilding in faith.


Luke writes his Gospel intentionally to prove to “Theophilus” that the faith “he” has received is not misleading. “His” understanding of God’s universal plan of Salvation is rightly grounded in the events and teachings of Jesus Christ. This faith is therefore neither fake nor deceptive. It is not just a misinterpretation of, nor a heretic split from Judaism.


Formation of the Gospel of Luke

We know that to edit his Gospel Luke used different traditions, written and oral. He used the Gospel of Mark as his main source of inspiration, though he does not always follow it. Luke has studied all his material thoroughly. The reason for writing his Gospel is to introduce the Person and life of Jesus Christ to a non-Jewish audience and to share with them, the news of the Salvation God offers to all peoples.


Give reason for your faith

For Luke, the inclusion of the pagans into the New People of God is the obvious consequence of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Jesus by his Cross has put to death the old enmity between Jews and non-Jews[2].


Jesus in Nazareth

The first four verses of the Gospel of Luke form a summary that serves to understand the entire Gospel. Luke does not wait long to show his goal. We see it outlined already in the four first verses of his Gospel by hints of the mission of the Church to open salvation to the pagans:


The choice of Nazareth is in itself a proclamation of intention: Nazareth is not a place of influence or the central place for the Jewish Religion. Jerusalem will play obviously an important role in the life of Jesus, but for Luke “all started in Galilee”, bordering the Gentile world[3]: we begin at a marginal district of the Nation, a place associated with religious laxity and heretical movements[4].


Luke concludes the Infancy Narratives and introduces John the Baptist. Then he proceeds with the account of the Temptations of Jesus in the Desert. The same Holy Spirit who prompted Jesus going into the desert, is the same Spirit who leads him now into his home town. In this way we are introduced to the narrative of Jesus in the Synagogue of Nazareth.


The Prophetic Tradition

The scene is well structured. It is not the first public appearance of Jesus. “His fame” as an itinerant preacher is already well extended. In fact, Jesus did in Nazareth what He did in other places: preaching in the Synagogues.


The Gospel account includes the text that Jesus read. He did not choose the Book. He is given the scroll of Isaiah. However, scroll in hand, Jesus chooses the text He wants to read from the Prophet. Jesus has a perfect knowledge of Scriptures: He is able to identify a text that helps him present his ministry in a very sincere and profound way.


The Christian Faith has inherited the Old Testament Scriptures and we cannot understand Christ without his Jewish identity and background. As such, the Church has accepted the entire Old Testament as revealed by God. However, in practical terms we can say that Christianity is inspired more on the Prophetic Tradition than on the Juridic Traditions of the Pentateuch. Jesus was a Prophet and people recognized him as a Prophet. This is clear in this text of Luke where we see that Jesus relied on the Book of Prophet Isaiah to support his message of salvation.


Furthermore, reading the texts of the Prophet we realize that the Gospel does not contain other texts that refer to the wrath of God against those who do not belong to the People of Israel[5]. The God and Father of Jesus does not love a people and a nation to the exclusion of others. God’s plan of salvation is universal and that is the Good News that Luke in his Gospel will enfold. The day of Pentecost is the birth of the Church and it marks the beginning of the second volume of his work: The Acts of the Apostles.


What stands out therefore is that Jesus appears in Galilee as a Prophet who brings the Good News to all who look for salvation, even sinners. No one is to be excluded from the Kingdom of God and from its fulfilment.


Oratio

Psalm 33: 18-22

“Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,

on those who hope in his steadfast love,

to deliver their soul from death,

and to keep them alive in famine.


Our soul waits for the Lord;

he is our help and shield.

Our heart is glad in him,

because we trust in his holy name.

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,

even as we hope in you”.


Lord, let me be part of that unending Mission, to bring Good News, vision and freedom to those who need them.



Contemplatio

o In my imagination I join the Synagogue. I hear Jesus speaking the prophecy of Isaiah as his own mission statement. As I listen, I sense with excitement that He is reaching out to me to join him.


o God defends those whom nobody else defends. Jesus was looking at families that struggled to survive, at people dispossessed of their land, at starving children, at prostitutes and beggars. He said that they were suffering unjustly. God takes their side! Do I?


o Our Church has a vision and a mission: am I able to buy into it and contribute to it to the best of my ability?


o What is Jesus calling me to do in my journey of discipleship?


o “Jesus contrasted his way to the way of the world quite emphatically: ‘He who is not with me is against me’ (Luke 11:23). Saint Ignatius of Loyola helps us apply this to ourselves in a key meditation in the Spiritual Exercises called ‘A Meditation on the Two Standards’—a ‘standard’ meaning a flag[6]. Being a good soldier Ignatius offers an image proper to his own time. The question we ask ourselves is “how much am I able to invest to the promote the Kingdom as we see that those aligned to evil able so committed against God?”

 

[1] The text of Luke 4: 16-30 for instance seems to fall short of chronological order; however, it fits the plan of Luke to show that Salvation is being fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus to the poor. [2] Ephesians 2: 15-17: “He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body[a] through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near”. [3] Matthew 4: 15: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles”. [4] John 1:46: “Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’” [5] Isaiah 63: 6: “I trampled down peoples in my anger, I crushed them in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” [6] https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-spiritual-exercises/the-two-standards/

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