January 24, 2016
Dear Parish Family,
In today’s Gospel, Our Lord is in the synagogue in Nazareth, where he proclaims a reading from the prophet Isaiah: 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, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Christ declares that this Scripture passage has been fulfilled in their hearing.
Our Lord is declaring that His ministry is the fulfillment of the hopes and expectations of God’s Chosen People. This is initially very well received by those who hear Him; however, that quickly changes.
The people demand that He do for them what He did at Capernaum; He refuses and tells them, essentially, it is not for them but for others. Their praise of Him and their amazement at His gracious words turns to fury; they want what belongs to the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed without actually being poor, captive, blind, or oppressed.
We must keep careful guard on our own desires so that we, too, are not guilty of seeking to steal from the poor and the marginalized. Luke’s Gospel is, more so than the others, concerned with the plight of — and Jesus’s love of — the poor and the oppressed. Because ministry to the poor and the marginalized is important to Our Lord, it must be important to us.
It is easier to minister to those who are like us than to seek out those who are truly in need; Christ does not fall into that trap, and neither should we. I have heard it said that charity begins at home. Perhaps… but it does not end there. Christian charity must always face outward and seek to help those with the truest and deepest needs, because that is the model Christ gives us to follow.