Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He 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 and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: 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. Rolling 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. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. (Luke 4:14-22)
Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those who suffered from physical, mental, or spiritual oppression (see Isaiah 61:1-2).
Jesus came to set people free, not only from their infirmities, but from the worst affliction of all – the tyranny of slavery to sin, Satan, and the fear of losing one’s life. God’s power alone can save us from dejection, hopelessness, and emptiness of life. The Gospel of salvation is “good news” for everyone who will receive it.
Jesus asks that we embrace the good news calls us not to be an idle listener, but a doer of the Word.” Jesus Christ came to found a family, as he said, whose mother, brothers, and sisters are those who “hear the word of God and observe it.”( Hebrew, as you know, uses the same word for “hear” and for “obey)
To become a doer of the word carries with it the need to obey the word. There comes the problem with many who profess to be a follower of Christ. But there is something that most Christians forget.
It’s the process of moving from “no” to “yes” and that is the Christian journey.
This movement from “no” to “yes” is a fundamental Christian pattern that is routinely present in the Scriptures. Peter denies Jesus, but later repents. Thomas refuses to accept Jesus’ resurrection, but then becomes a believer. Paul persecutes the early followers of Jesus, but then converts and becomes one of the great apostles of the church.
Whenever we follow that pattern, we find ourselves in very good company. But if we are going to follow this basic Christian movement, we must start by admitting our denial. We must begin by owning that there are ways in which we say “no,” ways in which we are flawed, ways in which we need to change.
So what are the ways that you say “no” in your life? What are the ways you need to change? Do you find yourself judging others, being impatient with those who think or act differently than you do? Are you prejudiced towards those of a different race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation?
Do you find yourself so concerned about your own needs and desires that you ignore your responsibility to the people in your life: to your spouse, to your children or parents, to your friends?
How often do we find ourselves refusing to admit that we are wrong, never saying we’re sorry or asking someone else for forgiveness? How often do we get so caught up in the details of life that we turn ungrateful, forgetting to thank the people who serve us and help us day after day?
Whatever flaws you find in your life, whatever mistakes you have made, they need not control you. Our past does not determine our future. Our history is not our destiny. A sin can be forgiven. A flaw can be mended. A life can be changed. Through our Baptism, we are part of a community where sinners become saints on a daily basis, where those who judge learn to understand, where those who think only of themselves become servants of others.
It is never too late. Mercy never runs out. With God’s help, our worst “no” can become a clear and glorious “yes.”
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams. Through the gift of your Holy Spirit you bring us truth, freedom, and abundant life. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your kingdom of peace and righteousness.”
What can bring us true freedom and joy? In Jesus we see the healing power of God’s love and mercy in action. Wherever Jesus went, people gathered to hear him speak about the kingdom of heaven and God’s promise to bring freedom and healing to those who put their trust in God. His gracious words brought hope, joy, and favor to those who were ready to receive him. Now, today, is the day when we should re-commit ourselves to his way.