03Sep 03 September. Monday, Week 22

1st Reading: 1 Corinthians (2:1-5)

Paul was ill in Corinth, but his preaching was powered by the Spirit

When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 119)

R.: Lord, how I love your law

Lord, how I love your law.
It is always in my mind.
Your command makes me wiser than my foes,
for it is with me forever. (R./)

I have more insight than all my teachers
as I ponder your law..
I have more discernment than the elders,
because I keep your precepts. (R./)

On evil paths I refuse to walk,
that I may obey your word.
From your decrees I do not turn away,
for you have instructed me. (R./)

Gospel: Luke (4:16-30)

Jesus’ key sermon at Nazareth, affirming Isaiah’s hope-filled vision

When Jesus 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 procaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” 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.”

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

BIBLE

God’s promise to us

If spiritual power derives from Christ, we need not be discouraged, even if at times we live “in weakness and fear.” Paul’s letters to the Corinthians reveal the intensity with which he argued. What kept him going was a personal sense of being consecrated to ministry, and he felt the guiding presence of the Spirit. Therefore he was open to new inspiration, and even to changes of his mood. After doing his best, Paul could calmly leave the results with “the power of God.”

Today we begin reading from Luke’s gospel, with the account of Jesus’ opening address at Nazareth. With Luke we will follow the journeys of Jesus through all the remaining weekdays in ordinary time, from this 22nd week till the 34th. In his home town Jesus announces, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Later he points out that the kingdom of God is not to be identified with a point of time, nor is it “here” or “there.” For the deepest truth is that the reign of God is “already in your midst” (Lk 17:21). This inaugural sermon at Nazareth combines some of the major themes of Luke’s gospel: concern for the poor; the people’s amazement; the outreach to Gentiles; the role of the Spirit; Jesus as prophet; and finally Jesus’ rejection “outside the city.”

“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” The power of the resurrection is already being felt. The jubilee year of favour announced in Isaiah 61, which leads up to the new Jerusalem (Isa 62) and the new heaven and new earth (Isa 65:17-25), has already begun with Jesus, who proclaims the wonder and the joy of the jubilee. Such happiness cannot be possessed selfishly. It will be lost if it is not shared. We must be willing to share the same messianic fulfillment with widows and foreigners, with outcasts and lepers. Jesus cannot rise to new life unless the glad tidings be sent to all the poor and neglected of the world.


The aims of Jesus

When he read from the scroll of Isaiah and then sat down to comment on what was read, Jesus indentified with the prophet who was sent to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and new sight to the blind, and set the downtrodden free. He goes on to identify himself with two other prophets, Elijah and Elisha, who ministered to non-Israelites, a hungry widow from Sidon and a leper from Syria. Jesus was saying to the people of Nazareth that he had come for those in greatest need, regardless of who they were or where they were from.

Oddly, hearing him claim this generous vision as his own mission made the people of Nazareth angry. Since Jesus was one of their own they expected special treatment from him. But the good news is that Jesus has come for all mankind. If he has any favouritism it is towards those who are broken in body, mind, or spirit. The Lord is constantly reaching out to us in our need and our suffering. All he asks is that we receive him as he is, on his own terms, which the people of Nazareth could not do. The Lord is always close to all of us; it is our need, our suffering, whatever form it takes, which can bring us close to him.

2 Responses

  1. Brian Fahy

    I was standing with my uncle Hugh one evening and looking up the glen, a quiet place of river, moorland and hill. There are no skyscrapers here, uncle Hugh, I said, as we surveyed the tranquil spot. No, and there won’t be, my uncle replied. Then after a pause, but if I don’t put the seed potato in the ground, the man in the skyscraper won’t do so well. A gem of wisdom.

    Paul resisted all the high rise notions of lofty words and philosophy when he came among the Corinthians. Instead he told them in inspired voice about a man who died and rose again, about the seed that dies in the ground and then produces its life. He told of Jesus who loved and suffered and rose again.

    At Nazareth Jesus reveals himself as Gods’ power to save us, we who are oppressed and downtrodden and broken hearted. Our faith in this power of God, the Lord himself, will bring us to understand life in all its ways and to live lives of true compassion.

  2. Brian Fahy

    A prophet is never accepted in his own country
    A prophet speaks Gods words
    and people don’t like that
    it upsets our system and our way of thinking
    so we chase prophets out of our town

    Lord, help us to receive your word each day into our hearts and our lives
    and not to chase you away
    help us to let your word be planted in our souls
    for it will save our lives,
    Amen.


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