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Daily Gospel Reading - January 24, 2010 PDF Print E-mail

Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21

The Prologue

1Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, 3I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.
14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. 15He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.
16He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read 17and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: 18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,/ because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor./ He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives/ and recovery of sight to the blind,/ to let the oppressed go free,/ 19and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” 20Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. 21He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

The Year of the Lord’s Favor Is... Today

Jesus was a familiar face in Nazareth where he grew up. He attended the Sabbath services with Mary and Joseph, with his cousins and relatives. The community knew them well. When Joseph died, Jesus carried on his trade as carpenter.

Then, one day, Jesus left Nazareth. It was not altogether unexpected; many young men had forsaken this dull town, from which nothing good seemed to come out, in search of greener pastures. But the news that soon reached Nazareth was beyond expectations. It said that Jesus had achieved renown as a rabbi in the region of Galilee. Some people said he was a prophet; others marveled at his healing power. Whoever thought that a carpenter would turn out to be a religious figure?

Now the famous son returns. Naturally all Nazareth gathers in the synagogue to hear him speak. The hazzan—the synagogue caretaker and master of ceremonies—hands Jesus a scroll of Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, Jesus quickly finds a passage from the prophet and proclaims: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… He has anointed me… to bring glad tidings to the poor… to announce a year of favor from the Lord.”

The people are amazed at the way Jesus proclaims the prophecy. They can feel his authority. They fix their eyes on him as they wait for what more he has to say. The words then come like a trumpet blast: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

After the Christmas season, which reveals to us the mystery of the child Jesus, the liturgy opens the public ministry of Jesus with these ringing words: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” For those of us who heard the infancy stories of Matthew and Luke proclaimed during Advent and Christmas, the person of Jesus seems a mystery no longer: he is the fulfillment of the messianic expectations, the Word made man, the Son of God. Now comes the obvious question: What will this Child be when he grows up?

“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled.” The life and ministry of Jesus is the proclamation of the good news that God loves his people and cares for them, especially the poor, the sick, and the downtrodden. Jesus proclaims a “year of favor from the Lord,” God’s holy year when all forms of slavery and oppression cease.
“In your hearing…” The prophecies of Isaiah were fulfilled then and there in the synagogue of Nazareth because Jesus was present. In the same manner, they are realized today when the words of Jesus are proclaimed in our own hearing.

We sometimes wonder why even if we celebrate Christmas yearly, each time we get caught up in its mystery and enchantment. The peace and good will of the season fill us in a special way. If we pause and think about it, the spirit of Christmas is with us the whole year round.

This is because Jesus is “Emmanuel”—God-with-us today. He continues to be reborn in our hearts.

God’s salvation is being fulfilled “in our hearing.” Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is always at work to bring “glad tidings” to those who open their hearts to receive the good news.

Daily Gospel Reading - January 23, 2010 PDF Print E-mail

Mk 3:20-21

Jesus and His Relatives

20[Jesus] came home. Again [the] crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. 21When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

His Relatives

The culture of the Mediterranean world places high value upon the kin-group to which one belongs, to one’s family and relatives. The family is the person’s “world,” that which gives him or her identity and role. It not only was the source of a person’s status in the community but also functioned as the primary economic, religious, educational, and social network.

Aside from Joseph and Mary, Jesus’ family includes his “brothers and sisters” (Mk 3:32). These have been variously understood as blood relatives, step-siblings, or cousins. Some scholars, mostly Protestants, while admitting that Jesus was born of Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit, say that Mary and Joseph had other children, and these are Jesus’ brothers and sisters.  Roman Catholic scholars have espoused that the “brothers and sisters” are cousins in view of the Catholic doctrine of Mary’s “perpetual virginity” (Jesus was born of the divine conception and Mary never had sexual relations after Jesus’ birth).

Today’s Gospel echoes a tradition that Jesus’ immediate family was hostile to his cause in the beginning (Luke [2:19] and John [2:4-5] paint Mary as siding with Jesus). His “relatives” (Greek hoi par’ auto, literally “those belonging to him”) think he is out of his mind. This has to do not just with his not having time for himself, his failure to eat and sleep, but with his choice of life. Jesus’ family expects him to live in Nazareth and to carry on Joseph’s occupation as a carpenter, to marry and to raise a family. But Jesus prefers to be a “marginal Jew”—to live as a itinerant preacher, and make other people his “family,” even those of dubious character. His zeal for his mission makes people close to him question his very sanity.

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