Prayer and Meditation for Monday, September 4, 2017 — His Platform is One of Social Concern — “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.”

Monday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 431

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Reading 1 1 THES 4:13-18

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord,
that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord,
will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.

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For the Lord himself, with a word of command,
with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God,
will come down from heaven,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, console one another with these words.

Responsorial Psalm PS 96:1 AND 3, 4-5, 11-12, 13

R. (13b) The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
For great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
awesome is he, beyond all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are things of nought,
but the LORD made the heavens.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.

Alleluia SEE LK 4:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.


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Gospel LK 4:16-30

Jesus 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.
They also asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'”
And he said,
“Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

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After Jesus reads from Isaiah 61 he declares that they are fulfilled “today.” This is a remarkable claim since the passage in Isaiah is associated with the year of Jubilee – the time when the slaves would be set free and land returned to the original owner. N. T. Wright regularly points out that this prophetic text alludes to Lev. 25:8-12 and would have been understood as a reference to a new age of release and forgiveness for the nation (Simply Jesus, 75, for example).

Did Jews think they were still in an exile and in need of restoration? A key text is Daniel 9, where Daniel reads the prophet Jeremiah and determines that the 70 year exile ought to be over. In response to his prayer for restoration and the end of the exile, God reveals to him that the exile will be extended for “70 Sevens,” presumably 490 years. Only after that period is over will God finally end the exile.

Another text found among  the Dead Sea Scrolls has a similar view that the end of the exile will be like a Jubilee.  11Q13 Melichzedek indicates that at least some Jews prior to the time of Jesus thought of themselves as living in the exile. While this text is fragmentary it appears to be a collection of texts from Isaiah describing the end of the age as a new Jubilee. Melchizedek appears as a messiah-like figure who was predicted by “the anointed of the spir[it] as Dan[iel]”in Dan 9:25. He will be a “the messenger of good who announ[ces salvation].” All this sounds very much like Jesus’ words in Luke 4.

In fact, if the community at Qumran is associated with scrolls like this one, then their location in the desert, near the place where Israel ended their 40 years exile in the wilderness and finally entered the Land is remarkable. They are enacting the prophecy of Isaiah 40 to go “into the wilderness and make straight the paths of the Lord.”

By choosing this text to read, Jesus is drawing on a stock of apocalyptic imagery to describe his own ministry, the “times of jubilee” are fast approaching! It is significant that he stops reading where he does, he does not read the lines about the day of vengeance. The Melchizedek scroll includes vengence on the enemies of God’s people: “Melchizedek will carry out the vengeance of Go[d’s] judgments, [and on that day he will fr]e[e them from the hand of] Belial and from the hand of all the sp[irits of his lot.]”  Why did Jesus stop before the announcement of vengeance? I would suggest that it is simply because he knew his mission was not judgment, but to ‘provide a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

The kingdom is already arriving, but it is not yet fully arrived int h ministry of Jesus. The prophecy of Isaiah is demonstrated in the next few pericopes. In 4:31-37 a demon is driven out of a man (releasing of the oppressed); in 4:38-44 many people are healed. In Luke 7:36-50 Jesus forgives a woman’s sin! As Wright says, these stories not only resonate with the long-awaited Jubilee, but also the Exodus story.

Are there other indications that Jesus thought of his ministry as the “end of the exile”?

Luke 4:16-21 – Reading Isaiah in Nazareth


Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
04 SEPTEMBER, 2017, Monday, 22nd Week, Ordinary Time

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [1 Th 4:13-18Ps 96:1,3-5,11-13Lk 4:16-30 ]

What is Christianity?  Is it a religion?  Christianity is not a religion if we reduce Christianity to a worship of God, a religion reducible to rituals, sacraments and worship.  Indeed, Catholicism often is seen as synonymous with elaborate rites, sacraments, the celebration of the Eucharist and devotions to Mary and the Saints.  Christianity does not exclude all these but Christianity is more.

Christianity is basically a message of salvation.  It is the Good News of freedom and restoration of both the individual and the community; and the entire cosmos.  That is why it is called the Good News, the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus came to bring us the message of redemption.  He outlined His mission by citing the text from the Suffering Servant of Isaiah.  “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, and to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.”

Prodigal Son (or “All Forgiving Father”) by Rembrandt

Clearly, Jesus saw His mission in the light of the Jubilee tradition of Israel.  On every 50th year, all the debts were cancelled and all slaves would be freed.  It would be a day of restoration of the rights and dignity of every human person that had been enslaved or deprived of his land and property.  Such was the mind of Jesus when He began His mission.  He was intent in liberating His people from all forms of captivity, whether it was social, physical or spiritual.  Indeed, he had come “to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.”  His task was to free people from their captivity, which made them lose hope in life.   Indeed, we do not find Jesus worshipping always in the Temple or in the synagogues.  He would of course go to Jerusalem once a year for His annual pilgrimage.  Initially, He was teaching in the synagogues but soon, He was not welcomed and His pulpit was at the shore of the sea, on the hills and in the houses of people and along the road.  Jesus was very much with the people from day to night, reaching out to them and offering them true freedom, liberation and restoration.

So was Christ a social revolutionary? Did He intend to change the status quo of society? His message certainly has effect on the social dimension of society.  He came to restore the equilibrium of society.  He sought to remove the barriers between men and women, the rich and the poor, the clergy and the laity, saints and sinners.  St Paul wrote, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.  And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:28f)   He proclaimed the Good News to the poor, those who were marginalized in society, the outcasts and the rejected.  But Christ was not a revolutionary in terms of social revolutionaries today.  He had no plans to overthrow the authorities and no strategy to bring about a revolution.  It was just an expression of His love and compassion for humanity.

Again, was Christ just a miracle worker and a healer?  Proclaiming the Good News entails the concrete expression of God’s love and mercy.  The message of the Good News was not just words but also acts of mercy.  So Jesus healed the sick, cured the blind and the lame, cast out demons, restored the lepers back to society and even raised the dead.  Jesus’ mission included the working of miracles, especially that of healing.  The message of the Good News extends beyond the social dimension of man.  It includes the healing of the body, the mind and the spirit.   Jesus was not just concerned about society as a whole, unlike communism inspired by Marxist ideology. He was attentive to the individual.

But Jesus did not come to heal just the body; He came to give us life to the fullest.  He came to offer us spiritual reconciliation.  He came to forgive our sins as in the paralytic, the adulterous woman, Peter and the apostles who abandoned Him. He ate and drank with sinners.  He offered the dignity of the tax-collectors like Matthew and Zacchaeus.  He gave them a new vision and a new mission.  He taught them that life is more than just on this earth but of the life that is to come.

Hence, Jesus also spoke to them about God and His kingdom.  All that He did and said were to convey the message of the Father’s love for all.  The kingdom that Jesus proclaimed was not a political kingdom in terms of territory but a kingdom of the heart.  It is the kingdom of love, justice and peace for all men and women.  All are called to share the life and love of the kingdom of God.  Jesus envisaged a world where all men and women are equal and live in justice, love and compassion for each other.  This is what the psalmist says, “The Lord is great and worthy of praise, to be feared above all gods; the gods of the heathens are naught.  It was the Lord who made the heavens.  Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad.  Shout for joy at the presence of the Lord for he comes, he comes to rule the earth. With justice he will rule the world, he will judge the peoples with his truth.”

For this reason, His kingdom message is inclusive of all.  It is an integrated message that has impact on every dimension of life, social, political, personal, physical and spiritual.  Jesus was neither a social reformer, nor a faith-healer per se, nor a political revolutionary, not even a priest in the Jewish understanding of one who offered rituals and sacrifices.  But at the same time, He encompasses all these dimensions of life.  His mission and message is inclusive of all realities of life.  Nothing is excluded from His mission.  His message is a holistic message and His mission extends to all human beings and every area of the human life.

This is in direct contrast to the attitude of the Jews in His time.  They were exclusivists.  In the first place, they could not accept the proclamation of Jesus because He was too familiar with them. They said, “This is Joseph’s son surely?”   Indeed, this is also true with us.  When a preacher comes from afar we would listen to him attentively.  But with our own kind, we would not pay any attention.  That was why Jesus said, “No doubt you will quote me the saying, ‘Physician, heal yourself’ and tell me, ‘We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your countryside.’ I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.”  They could not accept that Jesus could be the prophet that the message of Isaiah would be fulfilled.  Jesus said to them at the end of the reading, “’This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’  And he won the approval of them all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.”

What incensed them most was the inclusive attitude that Jesus had towards the non-Jews.  For the Jews, the non-Jews were sinners and outside the ambit of God’s love and salvation.  But Jesus said to them that “there were many widows in Israel” in Elijah’s time when “a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to anyone of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town.”  Similarly, “in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.”  We read that “when they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged.  They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff.”   For the Jews, their narrow mindedness, their pride and selfishness prevented them from entering into the universal kingdom of love and unity.

Indeed, the message of Christianity is so inclusive even of those who are dead.  As Christians we do not believe in death but those who die before us are sleeping in the Lord waiting to resurrect with the rest at the end of time.  Our body, which is separated in death, will be reunited with our soul.  Christianity does not believe in the permanent dissolution of the body.  St Paul wrote, “We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that it will be the same for those who have died in Jesus:  God will bring them with him.”   Indeed, a Christian lives in hope, a sure hope of fullness of life here on earth and eternal life in heaven.  “Those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise, and then those of us who are still alive will be taken up in the clouds, together with them, to meet the Lord in the air.  So we shall stay with the Lord for ever.  With such thoughts as these you should comfort one another.”  Indeed, St Paul also wrote,  “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.  For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”  (Rom 14:7-9)

Written by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
On Luke 4:16-21
His Platform is One of Social Concern (Luke 4:16-21)
From The Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese
香港天主教正義和平委員會. 實踐社會正義是信仰中不能或缺的幅度,要實現這使命和在社會中作見證,必須維護人性尊嚴,改善人民的福祉,讓人有空間發揮其潛能

According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus read a passage from the Book of Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth at the very beginning of his public ministry. This passage contains the theme of his work –itunveiledhismessiahship,long awaited by the Israelites, and demonstrated the universality of salvation. In addition, it was also rich in its consciousness of social concern (1). For example, verse 18 mentions the poor, the captives, the blind and the oppressed – people who were discriminated against and unfairly treated. These titles bear much social character (2). Jesus’ salvation was to proclaim to these people good news, release, recovery of sight, and freedom. Not only was this a spiritual redemption but it also bore social and political dimensions, especially towards the poor, the oppressed, and the weak in society (3). This article will look into this description, which we call it the policy of Jesus’ ministry, to consider its social character.

Luke 4:16-21

        After arriving at the synagogue, Jesus read from the Scripture as required by custom. In accordance with synagogue practice, someone would explain the meaning of the passage that had been read. This was similar to the homily following the Scripture reading in today’s liturgies. This practice was very popular at the time.

        Jesus chose the verses from Isaiah 61:1-2 to read. Luke does not include all of these two verses. For instance, “heal the wounded” is missing whereas “open the eyes of the blind” has been added (Is. 42:7). Whatever the reason for Jesus’ omission in reading or Luke’s in recording might be, we can still see from Luke 4:18 that Jesus came to bring salvation to the poor the captives, the blind, the oppressed. In general, they are the lower classes and the weak.

From Luke 4:18, we can see:

“Preach good news to the poor”: According to the understanding of the Church, poverty arises not from personal laziness or deficiency but from social factors such as unequal distribution of power, denial of opportunities, unfair distribution of resources, etc.

“Proclaim liberty to captives”: The word “captive” was a political term, the characteristic for captives was loss of freedom. The release of captives was to release them from situations of no freedom.

“Proclaim recovery of sight to the blind”: the blind or the handicapped were discriminated against everywhere, today as well as yesterday. To recover their sight was to stop them from being further discriminated against (5).

“Let the oppressed go free”: Although Jesus had not defined who the oppressed were, we can reasonably assume that the oppressed not only include those being spiritually oppressed but also those unfairly treated by the systematic structures in the society.

“Proclaim God’s Year of Mercy (Jubilee Year)”: some scholars have pointed out that the Prophet Isaiah may be pointing to a particular incident, or, a vision held by the Israelites before or after their defeat by Babylon (6). The Year of Mercy finds it origins in Leviticus 25:1-17. According to the Bible, Jews took every seven years as a cycle. In the first six years, sowing, pruning the vineyard and harvesting were allowed. The seventh year was the Sabbath Year when cultivation, pruning of the vineyard or harvesting was forbidden and the land rested completely. The year following seven Sabbath Years, i.e. the fiftieth year, was a Jubilee Year. In addition to forbidding of sowing and harvesting, only wild produce could be eaten, all debts were cancelled, all pawned properties were returned, sold land was given back to the original owner, slaves regained their freedom and returned home, etc. (7).

        In view of this, the content for the Jubilee Year established some concrete and social characteristics, the aim of which was the re-distribution of resources. Resources of the Earth were for the use of all after recycling. This matches with the spirit of environmental protection. The debtors or the slaves, who had experienced the oppression from unfair systems, could start again from the beginning and get a fairer chance in competition with others.

        Of course, this does not mean that Jesus demands blind observance of these guidelines, for instance, that we should stop all work upon the arrival of a Jubilee. On the contrary, we have to understand the social and political meaning of the Jubilee Year (8). This involves the re-distribution of resources, the emphasis on fairness, the pursuit of structural change for meeting the demands of social justice.

Building heaven on earth for the poor and the oppressed.

Read more:


“With the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God…”

Commentary on Luke 4:16-30 From Living Space

We begin today the reading of Luke’s gospel which will bring us up to the end of the Church year. We have already gone through Matthew and Mark and John’s gospel has been spread through various parts of the year, especially during the Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter seasons.

The gospel is a companion volume to the book of the Acts and the language and structure of these two books indicate that both were written by the same person. They are addressed to the same individual, Theophilus, and the second volume refers to the first.

Luke presents the works and teachings of Jesus that are especially important for understanding the way of salvation. Its scope is complete from the birth of Christ to his ascension. It appeals to both Jews and Gentiles.

However, we take up Luke’s gospel at the beginning of Jesus’ public life (chap. 4). After his baptism he had returned “in the power of the Spirit to Galilee”, the northern province of Palestine and his home province. Already people were talking about him everywhere.

Now, as our reading opens, we find him in Nazareth, a small town in Galilee and the place where he grew up. From the verses immediately preceding, it does not seem that Jesus actually began his ministry in Nazareth. The event described here may not have taken place until a year later. One suggestion (NIV Bible) is that all that is described in John’s gospel between 1:19 to 4:42 took place between the temptation in the desert and the moving north to Galilee (vv.13 and 14).

But Luke has arranged the structure of his gospel so that Jesus will begin his public life in Nazareth and will gradually proceed southwards towards his goal, Jerusalem, without turning back. In the other Synoptics he moves around Galilee in all directions and John suggests that he made a number of visits to Jerusalem during his public life.

The Jerusalem Bible suggests that our passage today actually combines three distinct parts:

the first, vv.16-22 (Jesus is honoured), occurring at the time indicated by Matt 4:13;

the second, vv.23-24 (Jesus astonishing his audience), the visit of which Matthew and Mark speak;

the third, vv.25-30 (the life of Jesus threatened), not mentioned by Matthew or Mark and to be placed towards the end of the Galilean ministry.

In this way Luke presents an introductory tableau which is a summary and symbol of Christ’s great offer and of its contemptuous rejection by his own people.

As the reading opens we find Jesus in the town synagogue. It is a sabbath day. He gets up to read the scripture and comments on it. The ruler of the synagogue could authorise any adult Jew to read the scripture lesson. The passage he reads is full of significance. It comes from the prophet Isaiah and Jesus’ reading of it amounts to a manifesto or what we might call today a “mission statement”. ‘Books’ in those days were in the form of scrolls and the Scriptures were kept in a special place in the synagogue and given to the reader by an attendant. Jesus may have chosen the passage himself or it may have been assigned for that day.

But it is more than just a mission statement. As he reads it becomes clear that the whole statement is about Jesus himself. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” This has already been confirmed during his baptism in the river Jordan when “the Holy Spirit came down on him in the form of a dove” and a voice was heard to say, “You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).

“Because he has anointed me.” In saying this Jesus is making an unequivocal claim to be the Messiah or the Christ, the long-awaited liberating King of Israel. The word “Messiah”, translated into Greek as Christos , means someone who is anointed with oil. (We call the oil in baptism and confirmation ‘chrism’.) And a person was made king by having oil poured over his head. (We remember how David was anointed king.) Jesus, of course, was not literally anointed but had been figuratively ‘anointed’ by the coming of the Spirit on him in his baptism. ‘Anointing’ is our equivalent of ‘coronation’, symbolised by the putting of a crown on the new king.

Then comes the mission of this King:

To preach the gospel to the poor,

to heal the broken-hearted,

to proclaim liberty to captives and

recovery of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are hurt

and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

There is nothing here of restoring the glories of Israel, nothing about conquering enemies and laying waste their lands. No, it is about letting the poor of this world hear the Good News of God’s love for them. It is about healing and reconciliation. It is about liberating those who are tied down by any form of enslavement. It is about helping people to see clearly the true meaning of life. It is about restoring wholeness to people’s lives and to societies. It is about the inauguration of the Kingdom by its King.

It is, in short, the whole picture of Jesus that will unfold in the pages of Luke, a gospel which focuses on the poor and vulnerable, a gospel of tenderness and compassion, a gospel of the Spirit and of joy, a gospel of prayer and healing.

It is about “proclaiming a year acceptable to the Lord”. This refers to the Messianic age when salvation would be proclaimed. Isaiah in the original text is alluding to the Year of Jubilee, when every 50 years slaves were set free, debts were cancelled and ancestral lands were returned to the original family. Isaiah was thinking mainly of freedom from Babylonian captivity but Jesus was speaking of liberation across the board of human living.

And, as he finished the reading, Jesus put down the scroll and said that these things were now being fulfilled as they were hearing them.

And the townspeople who thought they knew him so well were overawed by the wisdom with which he spoke. This positive reaction to Jesus is a favourite theme in Luke. “Is not this Joseph’s son?” they asked rhetorically. But they were wrong. He was not Joseph’s son; he was the son of Mary and of the Father, the divine Word sharing our ‘flesh’. (As suggested above, this event may have occurred on a second visit.)

And this in turn leads us to the third section of the reading which provides an unexpected turn of events and is more in harmony with the later part of Jesus’ public life. Jesus’ hearers were surprised at the way he spoke but they were not moved to change. After all, he was just the son of Joseph, and someone they knew so well could have nothing to say to them. At the same time Jesus says they, his own townspeople, must be wondering why he is not doing the things in Nazareth that he was doing in places like Capernaum.

Capernaum, apparently a sizeable town, was where Peter lived and Jesus made his house the centre out of which he did his missionary work in Galilee. A 5th century basilica now stands on the supposed site of the house and there is a 4th century synagogue quite near.

The reason for their non-acceptance is that they do not really accept him for what he is. He reminds them that prophets are seldom accepted in their own place. Familiarity blinds people to their message. “I know who he is and he has nothing to say to me.” Jesus then gives two rather provocative examples:

During a great famine in the time of the prophet Elijah he was sent to help not his fellow Israelites but a poor widow in Sarepta, near Sidon in non-Jewish territory. Sidon was one of the oldest Phoenician cities on the Mediterranean coast and about 33 km north of Tyre. Later, Jesus would heal the daughter of a Gentile woman here.

And in the time of the prophet Elisha, there were many lepers in Israel but he was sent to cure Naaman, a Gentile general from Syria.

God reaching out to Gentiles through his prophets sets the stage for the Gentiles to receive the message of the Prophet Jesus, which is so much a theme of Luke’s writings. But these remarks so angered the people of Nazareth that they dragged Jesus to the brow of a hill with the intention of throwing him down but he just walked through them. Whether he did this miraculously or from the sheer power of his personality is not clear. In any case, his time had not yet come.

Prophetic voices being rejected by their own is a phenomenon only too common in our own day. And it was something Jesus foretold would happen to his followers, simply for being his followers and proclaiming his vision of life. In the meantime, let us make Jesus’ mission statement our own. It is what being a Christian means.




Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
• Today we begin the meditation on the Gospel of Luke, which will extend three months until the end of the liturgical year. Today’s Gospel speaks about Jesus’ visit to Nazareth and the presentation of his program to the people of the Synagogue. In the first moment the people were admired. But, immediately, when they become aware that Jesus wants to accept all, without excluding anyone, people rebel and want to kill him.
• Luke 4, 16-19: The proposal of Jesus. Urged by the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned to Galilee (Lk 4, 14) and begins to announce the Good News of the Kingdom of God. He goes to the community, teaches in the Synagogue and arrives to Nazareth, where he had grown. He was returning to the community, in which he had participated since he was small, and during thirty years. The following Saturday, as it was the custom, Jesus went to the Synagogue to participate in the celebration and he stands up to read. He chooses the text of Isaiah which speaks about the poor, of the prisoners, of the blind and the oppressed (Is 61, 1-2). This text is an image of the situation of the people of Galilee at the time of Jesus. The experience which Jesus had of God, the Father of Love, gave him a new look to evaluate the reality. In the name of God, Jesus takes a stand to defend the life of his people and, with the words of Isaiah, he defines his mission: (1) to announce the Good News to the poor, (2) to proclaim liberty to captives, (3) to give sight to the blind; (4) to release the oppressed, and taking the ancient tradition of the prophets, (5) to proclaim “a year of grace from the Lord”. He proclaims the Jubilee Year!
• In the Bible, the “Jubilee Year” was an important Law. Every seven years, at the beginning (Dt 15, 1; Lv 25, 3) it was necessary to restore the land to the clan of origin. All had to be able to return to their own property; and this way they prevented the formation of large estates and families were guaranteed their livelihood. It was also necessary to forgive their debts and to redeem the persons who were slaves. (Dt 15, 1-18). It was not easy to have the Jubilee Year every seven years (cf. Jr 34, 8-16). After the exile, it was decided to have it every fifty years (Lv 25, 8-12). The objective of the Jubilee was and continues to be: to re-establish the rights of the poor, to accept the excluded and to re-integrate them into the society to live together with others. The Jubilee was a legal instrument to return to the original sense of the Law of God. This was an occasion offered by God to make a revision of the path being followed, to discover and to correct the errors and to start again from the beginning. Jesus begins his preaching proclaiming a Jubilee “A year of grace from the Lord”.
• Luke 4, 20-22: To unite the Bible and Life. Having finished the reading, Jesus updates the text of Isaiah and says: “This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening!” Taking the words of Isaiah as his own, Jesus gives them a full and definitive sense and he declares himself Messiah who comes to fulfil the prophecy. This way of updating the text provokes a reaction of discredit on the part of those who were in the Synagogue. They were scandalized and do not want to know anything about him. They do not accept that Jesus is the Messiah announced by Isaiah. They said: “Is he not the son of Joseph?” They were scandalized because Jesus speaks about accepting the poor, the blind and the oppressed. The people do not accept Jesus’ proposal. And, thus when he presents the project of accepting the excluded, he himself is excluded.
• Luke 4, 23-30: To overcome the limits of race. In order to help the community to overcome the scandal and to help them understand that his proposal formed part of tradition. Jesus tells two stories known in the Bible, the story of Elijah and the one of Elisha. Both stories criticise the mental closeness of the people of Nazareth. Elijah was sent to the widow of Zarephath (1 K 17, 7-16). Elisha was sent to take care of the foreigner of Syria (2 K 5, 14). Here arises the concern of Luke who wants to show that openness already comes from Jesus. Jesus had the same difficulty which the communities at the time of Luke were having. But the call of Jesus did not calm down people, all the contrary! The stories of Elijah and Elisha produced even greater anger. The community of Nazareth reaches the point of wanting to kill Jesus. But he keeps calm. The anger of others does not succeed in drawing him away from his own path. Luke tells us that it is difficult to overcome the mentality of privilege and of mental closeness.
• It is important to notice the details used in the Old Testament. Jesus quotes the text of Isaiah up to the point where it says: “to proclaim a year of grace from the Lord”. He does not quote the rest of the phrase which says: and a “day of vengeance from our God”. The people of Nazareth throw stones at Jesus because he pretends to be the Messiah, because he wants to accept the excluded and because he has omitted to read the phrase about vengeance. They wanted the day of Yahweh to be a day of vengeance against the oppressors of the people. In this case, the coming of the Kingdom would not have been a true change or conversion of the system. Jesus does not accept this way of thinking; he does not accept vengeance (cf. Mt 5, 44-48) His new experience of God Father/Mother helped him to understand better the sense of the prophecies.
Personal questions
• The program of Jesus is to accept the excluded. Do we accept everybody or do we exclude some? Which are the reasons which lead us to exclude certain persons?
• Is the program of Jesus truly our program, my program? Who are the excluded whom we should accept better in our community? Who or what thing gives us the strength to carry out the mission which is entrusted to us by Jesus?
Concluding Prayer
How I love your Law, Lord!
I ponder it all day long.
You make me wiser than my enemies
by your commandment which is mine for ever. (Ps 119,97-78)
Photo credit The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints
From 2015:
Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

How many of us would concur with Jesus that “this text is being fulfilled today” even as we read or listen to today’s gospel text?  Why are we are no longer excited about the Good News?  What makes us indifferent or insensitive to the Good News?

Familiarity is the cause for our lack of faith.  But how could this be the problem?  After all, we have often been taught that God is our friend and so be casual with Him.  We can pray to Him anywhere and everywhere even whilst lying down on our bed.  There is no need to be too formal with Him, no need to kneel or fold our hands in a praying position.  This over-familiarity has resulted in indifference and insensitivity.  Indeed, many Catholics have lost their sense of the sacred.  They come to Mass casually dressed, sloppily dressed or even under-dressed.  They have no respect for the sacredness of the Church.  They talk in Church loudly as if it was a community center, make phone calls, surf the internet or chat with their friends via sms or facebook.  Indeed, many of us have fallen into the snare of familiarity.  We are so familiar with the Mass that we do not really pay attention to every word that is uttered, or what is going on during Mass.  We pray the Divine Office or daily prayers so often that we simply repeat the prayers, but our hearts are far from what we say.

Familiarity does make us blind.  Familiarity is different from intimacy.  Familiarity is often masqueraded as intimacy when it is only a shallow relationship or understanding of the reality.  When we say someone is familiar, we mean that we know someone on the surface, or that we have seen some familiar features of this person.  But to be familiar does not mean intimacy at all.  On the contrary, it means that there is no depth in that relationship.

This was what happened to the townsfolk of Jesus.  They thought they knew Him as the son of Joseph, the carpenter.  Of course, this was true.  But they only knew about Him. They did not know Him.  As a result, they demanded proof from Him.  In their hearts, they were saying, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your countryside”.  If we need proof, it is only because there is no relationship.  When we know someone, we do not ask him or her to prove that he or she loves us.  Certainly, we do not demand from our friends proof of our friendships.  Of course, when there is no real relationship, then we need proof to reassure us.

Consequently, today, the liturgy invites to deepen our relationship with the Lord.  Faith requires intimacy.  St Paul in the first reading illustrates what faith is all about.  It is a conscious awareness of death and life.  Unless we are embalmers, undertakers, doctors or nurses, many of us do not come across death on a daily basis.  Certainly, there are people dying everyday.  But when we encounter the death of someone we know, that demise is different.  We pay attention to that death and we are affected in some ways.

Similarly, if we want to deepen our relationship with the Lord, we need to grow in depth in our relationship with the Lord.  Intimacy with the Lord is just the opposite of familiarity.  Intimacy is a relationship that has depth and meaning.  It is not a superficial knowledge of God, but a relationship that is built on true knowledge and understanding.  In intimacy, we become more aware and conscious of the one whom we love.  This is what faith presupposes – for trust and love can develop only when there is an in-depth relationship.


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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Monday, September 4, 2017 — His Platform is One of Social Concern — “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.””

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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