January 29-30: Preparing for this Sunday’s Mass

This weekend’s Gospel repeats this line from last weekend’s Gospel: “Jesus began to speak to them: ‘Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.’” Elsewhere, this is translated, “Today this text is being fulfilled, right now, as you are listening.”

Let’s recall that on the occasion of Jesus’ Baptism, St. Luke had mentioned how the Spirit of God had descended upon Him. Somehow, the experience at the Jordan had led Jesus into “the heart of God” and enabled Him to hear the voice of God identifying him as God’s beloved. From that insight into “the heart of God” flowed Jesus’ newly voiced concern for the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed. These mark Jesus’ initial proclamation of the Good News and all of them will be central themes throughout His public life. In declaring that the Scripture was being fulfilled “right now,” as they listened, Jesus was effectively claiming that He was the one anointed by the Spirit, God’s era (year) of favor had begun, and His “sense of God” was that of a Father who cared in a unique way for the poor and the oppressed.

As we prepare for Mass this week, let us take note of the response (to Jesus) by the people of Nazareth. Initially, they are filled with praise for Jesus, but things turn rather quickly and before we know it they are filled with fury. It appears that this reaction is not unique to Nazareth: on a couple of different occasions, Jesus’ ministry, teaching, and miracles start out being very popular among the people. Gradually, as people, especially many Jewish leaders, begin to understand how radical His message is, opposition begins to grow – until some begin to plot how to kill Him. One of the important lessons to be gleaned from this is that we cannot take Jesus on our own terms, but on His terms! We cannot make Jesus into who we would like Him to be. We must accept Him on the basis of who He is and who He wants us to be.

Let us pray. “Lord God, grant us the grace to let your Scriptures, your Holy Word, be fulfilled in and through us each and every day. Make us, more and more, humble servants who are willing to raise up the lowly, feed the hungry, and console the sorrowing. Help us to take seriously our role in building your Kingdom by living your Gospel. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

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