He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21).
Jesus, who had just sat down, spoke these words to his hometown congregation in Nazareth who had just heard him read the passage from the writings of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus proclaimed that he was the one to whom Isaiah was talking about. Luke chose to place this event as the starting point of Jesus’ public ministry, of bringing glad tidings to the poor, proclaiming liberty to the captives, recovering sight to the blind, letting the oppressed go free, and proclaiming a year acceptable to the Lord (Lk 4:18-19).
This is a message of universal healing for all of humanity, that restoration and reconciliation would come and Jesus would be the vehicle to bring all the nations, all people, back into communion and relationship with his Father. The poor mentioned were not just in reference to those experiencing material poverty, but to those finding themselves on the margins of society, the outcasts, those on the peripheries. The captives were not only those imprisoned for debts or crimes, but those bound in the chains of their own sin and addiction. The blind were not only those who could not physically see, but those who experienced the spiritual blindness of pride and arrogance. The oppressed, were not just those under the iron fist of totalitarian and dictatorial regimes, but those pressed down through their own self imposed anxieties and fears.
In what ways are we in need of Jesus’ healing and restorative power? What is keeping us on the peripheries, apart from communion and fellowship? What sins and addiction keep us bound, what fears and anxieties keep us oppressed? Today we hear or read again Jesus’ words proclaimed in the Gospel. Jesus invites us to be healed and to align ourselves with his will and ministry of loving service to others. The same words he spoke to his own hometown he is speaking to us. Will we hold on to our biases and prejudices and run Jesus out from our midst to hurl him over a cliff because he is not only offering his healing hand to us, but also to others outside our tribe, our nation, our political party? Or will we come to Jesus, kneel before him, acknowledge our need for his healing and make him the Lord of our life?
Let us take some time today to examine our conscience. Then come to Jesus with a contrite, sorrowful heart for what he have done and what we have failed to do. May we feel his healing hands on our bowed heads and the warmth of his love pouring through us to purge us of our sin and pride and heal us from that which keeps us bound. Then, in recognition of how much suffering and pain is present in our country and world, let us ask Jesus how and where we can participate with him in bringing healing and reconciliation to others, to bring about an “acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk 4:19).