Having been led by the Spirit into the desert, Jesus fasted for forty days and was tempted by the devil. Jesus resisted these temptations and then, in Luke’s account, began his public ministry by preaching in the synagogues of Galilee. After some time, Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth and on the Sabbath, Jesus “went according to his custom into the synagogue” (Lk 4:16).
This time his presence was different. Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah and as Jesus sat, all were silent. Jesus broke the silence with the words, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:18). This was no ordinary reading, this was Luke’s inaugural address for Jesus. Jesus was sent on mission by his Father through the love of the Holy Spirit to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives and return sight to the blind, to free those from oppression and proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Jesus came to restore us to wholeness, to be present with us so that we can experience his closeness, and to lead us to reconciliation with his Father. Jesus calls us, just as he called his disciples to share in this same mission of drawing close. We are also to be present to one another, to love one another, and lead each other from our imprisonment to sin, turning in on ourselves, and away from others. We are to instead open ourselves up to embrace God and one another.
USC professor, Dr. Leo Buscaglia, was devastated when he heard the news that one of his students had committed suicide. He was crushed by the loss of such a young life full of potential and promise, but more so by the fact that none of her classmates were even aware that she was missing or struggling with such pain. Dr. Buscaglia then began his non credit course called Love 1A in 1969. He wanted not so much to teach but to facilitate ways in which his students could be free from the barriers that keep people at arm’s length, at a distance.
Dr. Buscaglia allowed God to work through him to bring about a greater good from the devastating loss of one of his students. His class grew beyond the campus of USC through his books and public speaking where he continued to facilitate for his listeners the vital importance of allowing ourselves to be loved and to love in return.
To continue the mission of Jesus we too need to have ears to hear and eyes to see the ways in which we can say yes to our unique invitation to spread the Gospel by being willing to come close, to be aware of each other and present through our caring, understanding, support, loving, and empowering of one another.

Photo: Dr. Leo Buscaglia, 1924-1988. “Perhaps if we listened to another person, truly listened, we could hear his joy or his cry. Love listens. Love hears.” – from his book Love, p. 180.
Link for the Mass readings for Sunday, January 23, 2022

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