Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

synagogue.jpg

Luke 1:1-4. 4:14-21

“This text is being fulfilled today …”

As the time for a General Election approaches and the campaigning has begun, as opinion polls publish their predictions and betting shops offer their odds, the political leaders put before the country a variety of recipes for the future, each hoping to attract your vote when the time comes. Then, following the election, one of them will be Prime Minister. On taking up that position he will outline his vision of the task that lies ahead, the primary goals for which he will aim, and the spirit in which he intends to direct his work. It’s an inaugural address, a statement of intent, a presentation of what he stands for.

Today’s gospel reading gives us something of that nature. Jesus had just begun his public ministry and his reputation was already spreading rapidly. He came back to his home village of Nazareth and there gave his ‘inaugural sermon’. It outlines his vision and his concerns, and the spirit in which he will operate. After reading out a passage from the prophet Isaiah about the Messiah, the anointed servant of God who was to come, Jesus announced the stunning claim: “this text is being fulfilled today” – in me.

The text he fulfilled points first to the Spirit of God as the source of his ministry – “the spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me”. Here was the anointed one – the Messiah on whom the Spirit rests – and in that Spirit he would work. It then spells out the works by which the Messiah would be known – his concern would be with sinners and outcasts, with the poor, and with captives, the blind, the oppressed, creating a new social order based on loving service and humility. His ministry would be marked by unwavering and consistent concern for those who live on the margins of society. What he did not say at that time was that he would pass on to us the same Spirit, to continue the same tasks and concerns.