Reflection on the Word
January 27th, 2013 (Third Sunday of Ordinary Time)
I like the connection between today’s first reading from Nehemiah and Luke’s gospel. In both passages from scripture, we hear stories of how attentive crowds flocked to hear good news at two separate times in history when good news was needed. In the first reading, the scribe Ezra addressed the crowd after a lengthy period of exile and persecution of the Jewish people. It was an emotional homecoming for the folks gathered to hear him, and they were comforted by the reading of God’s word; “For all the people wept when they heard the words of the Law.”
Jump ahead four hundred years or so to the account in Luke’s gospel, where Jesus also had recently returned to his homeland to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, and to let the oppressed go free. Like Ezra, Jesus read the Word of God to an attentive crowd. However, Jesus revealed something far more significant about himself in this proclamation, and when Luke recounts that “The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him,” it was not tearful eyes that were fixed on him, but eyes of what must have been amazement, suspicion, and perhaps even anger. The crowd Jesus spoke to knew him, and they knew his family, so they already knew about him as a gifted teacher and worker of miracles. However, when he read to them the words of the Prophet Isaiah about the Messiah, he was announcing his own role in salvation, and once the crowd understood what he was saying about himself, I would imagine there may have been a strong emotional reaction (which we will hear more about in next Sunday’s gospel reading).
Jesus challenged them to in a way that jolted them out of their comfort zone; a way they were unaccustomed to; a way considered blasphemous at the time. I think it would be safe to say that there are many of us who experience difficulty having our views challenged, particularly when those views are widely considered to be truth. It tends to make us uncomfortable and feel ungrounded, but Jesus’ mission was not one of fitting into the mould prescribed to him by tradition. His mission was to help his audience grow in faith.
Now, let’s jump ahead another 2,000 years or so to 2013,and today we are still a people in need of good news. Today’s reading from Luke’s gospel makes me wonder, in 2013 who are the poor, the captive, the blind, and the oppressed, and in what ways do I suffer from these limitations myself? Do I resist being jolted out of my own comfort zone? (You bet I do!) I have come to believe that most of us suffer from poverty, captivity, blindness and oppression in a multitude of ways, but am I attentive in recognizing the plight of others without judgement? In what ways do I follow through on Jesus’ mission to share God’s light with those who are in need of it?
As I have said before, I think the good news here is that we are working on these things, but this does not mean we are immune from the difficulty and pain that accompanies a spiritual growth the brings us closer to where we are called to be.
-Trevor Droesbeck, Office of Youth Faith Development (Archdiocese of Moncton)