FIRST READING: Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10
RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 15
1 Cor 12:12-30 or 12:12-14, 27
Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21
By Fr Elmer Ibarra SVD (Australia)
When you hear the words “Good News”, what first comes to your mind? Maybe for some good news is winning the lotto. Maybe for others good news is your girlfriend accepted your proposal to get married. Maybe for some good news is about reconciling with your son or daughter that you haven’t seen eye to eye in ages. Definitely good news is something about GOOD!
The beginning to of the gospel according to Luke is all about the Good News that Jesus has brought to this world. Luke started his gospel that his writing is an attempt to write down in an orderly sequence the teachings of Jesus Christ. And he has addressed this to a certain guy named “Theophilus”. We may never know who is Theophilus, which Greek for “Lover of God.” But what we have is an excellent account of the life of Jesus Christ.
Like what Luke said in the beginning of his gospel, there have been many who have undertaken to compile a narrative of the life of Jesus Christ. What have been handed on to us in the Canon of the Bible are four: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Mark being the earliest gospel to be written among the four followed by Matthew, Luke and John, which was written near the end of the first century or about 60-70 years after the resurrection of Jesus. Of course, there are many other gospels that have been written like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, the Protoevangelium of James, the controversial Gospel of Judas and many others. However, these writings have been dismissed and the only ones that were found “inspired” are the four that we have today.
The second part of the gospel for today is about an event in Jesus’ life that would signal the start of his ministry. Every male Jew, upon reaching the age of 13 makes him a part of the Jewish adulthood and could now publicly read the Jewish scriptures in the synagogue. So Jesus as part of this custom stood up to read a scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He read the part that 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 the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Then after reading that he said, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
What is remarkable in today’s gospel is the boldness and the authority that Jesus has shown when he declared the fulfilment of the scripture in their hearing. In the Jewish culture, the “status quo” is very important. If your father is a fisherman, the expectation is that the son will also follow the father’s footsteps. And in many present day cultures such is still the case. That’s why for Jesus, things were quite awkward upon his return for the community’s expectation is that he’s going to take up his father’s trade as a carpenter. There will be more on this issue in the gospel for next week. What is important in this week’s gospel is the declaration of Jesus that the promise of the prophets thousands of years ago is now being fulfilled. After thousands of years of waiting, they have no need to wait anymore, for those who are in that synagogue that Sabbath morning; God’s promise of salvation is now in front of them. What they just have to do is to believe.
For us our salvation was accomplished two thousand years ago, what we have to do is to believe and appreciate God’s grace in our lives. The promise that God gave the Jewish people thousands of years ago also applies to us, Christians. Sometimes though we live our lives as if we don’t feel that we’re saved, as if Jesus never existed. The challenge of the gospel is that salvation is now here, the gift of Christ is already in front of us, the only thing we have to do is to accept it and be thankful.