III SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10; 1 corinthians 12:12-30; luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
a franciscan monk was assigned to be guide to mother teresa on her visit to australia. thrilled at the prospect of being close to this great woman, he dreamed about all he would learn from her. but the friar never managed to say one word to mother teresa; there were always other people to meet her.
finally, tour over, she was to fly to new guinea. in desperation, the friar spoke to her: «if i pay my own fare to new guinea, can i sit next to you on the plane so i can talk to you and learn from you?» mother teresa looked at him and asked:. «you have enough money to pay airfare to new guinea?»
«yes,» he replied eagerly. she said: «then give that money to the poor. you’ll learn more from that than anything i can tell you.»
mother teresa understood that JESUS’ ministry was to the poor. this is the thrust of today’s liturgy.
the gospel describes the beginning of JESUS’ ministry with his inaugural sermon in nazareth. he entered the synagogue, stood up to read, unrolled the scroll of isaiah and found the passage about the «anointed one». he was searching for this passage! he read two verses and delivered, perhaps, the shortest homily in history: «today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing»!
with this loaded one-liner, JESUS announces that he is the «anointed one» whom GOD has sent to bring good news to the poor. the second verse he read specifies the content of the good news.
right through his gospel, luke will present JESUS fulfilling this mission to the poor. several events/parables found only in luke’s gospel (restoring to life the son of the widow of naim, forgiving the «sinful woman» in simon’s house, healing a crippled woman on the sabbath, the parable of lazarus and the rich man, the cure of the lepers, the encounter with zaccheus…) are instances of this mission.
JESUS’ mission is our mission. through baptism and confirmation, the spirit of the LORD is upon us. we, too, are called and sent to proclaim the good news to the poor.
how will i proclaim the good news to the (materially, spiritually, emotionally…) poor and broken-hearted today? in what way can i free the «captives»? when will i be able to say «this scripture is fulfilled»?