Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bringing Good News

Jesus in the Synagogue
In the 400s before Christ, in a time of new beginnings for the Jews, Ezra gathers the people together in a liturgical assembly so that they can renew the covenant God had made with them centuries before—a covenant summed up in that single phrase: “You are my people; and I am your God.” The people cried out: Amen. Amen. So be it. We will not only be hearers of God's Word but doers.

Centuries later, St. Paul uses the metaphor of the human body to describe how different parts have different functions; yet they all work for the good of the whole body. We are one family by virtue of the life-giving waters of Baptism, brothers and sisters to one another and sons and daughters of God our Father. And yes, God lives within us and we live in God within a grace-filled community.

How appropriate that we, in this year’s week of prayer for Christian Unity, should pray, like Paul centuries ago, that the Spirit will make all Christians one – for together we profess that there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.

The theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is "Called to Proclaim the Mighty Acts of the Lord."

In the Gospel according to Luke, Jesus begins his public ministry –his mission. He goes back to Nazareth in the region of Galilee and walks into the local synagogue on the Sabbath and takes the parchment of Scripture into his hands and quotes from the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; and he has sent me to bring good news.”

And then Jesus says: “Today this prophecy is fulfilled in your midst.”

This was indeed a bold statement for the audience. In a real sense, this is the inaugural speech of Jesus as he starts his public ministry, proclaiming aloud freedom, emancipation, and healing.

Jesus then sets about to give hope to those who have lost hope, purpose in life to those who have found little or no meaning.

Yes, Jesus challenges us: to forgive one another; seek reconciliation in our relationships; live an Other-centered life; and seek first the kingdom of God.

We might ask ourselves at the start of 2016, “How can I be a better person?”

We are called to create a sanctuary in our families, workplaces and community, a place where fellow human beings can find faith in God, hope in the future, friendship and peace and support in life’s problems.

I like this simple suggestion: each day, do a little bit more than you think you can. God will give us that power of the Spirit, that same Spirit that descended upon Jesus, to do a bit more than we think we can. Then when our earthly life ends, we will approach God a little bit closer than we thought. 

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