Alternate reading: Mark 6:17-29
GOSPEL READING: Luke 4:16-30
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read; 17 and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 20 And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; and they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, `Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here also in your own country.'” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. 30 But passing through the midst of them he went away.
Meditation: How would you react if Jesus spoke this message from the pulpit of your church? It was customary for Jesus to go weekly to the synagogue to worship and on occasion to read the Scriptures and comment on them to the people. His hometown folks listened with rapt attention on this occasion because they had heard about the miracles he had performed in other towns. What sign would he do in his hometown?
Jesus startled them with a seeming rebuke that no prophet or servant of God can receive honor among his own people. He then angered them when he complimented the Gentiles who seemed to have shown more faith in God than the “chosen ones” of Israel. They regarded Gentiles as “fuel for the fires of hell.” Jesus’ praise for “outsiders” caused them offense because they were blind-sighted to God’s mercy and plan of redemption for all nations.
The word “gospel” literally means “good news”. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those oppressed by sin and evil (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free from the worst tyranny possible – the tyranny of slavery to sin and the fear of death, and the destruction of both body and soul. God’s power alone can save us from emptiness and poverty of spirit, from confusion and error, and from the fear of death and hopelessness. The Gospel of salvation is “good news” for us today. Do you know the joy and freedom of the Gospel?
Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires. Your Holy Spirit brings us grace, truth, life, and freedom. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your will
1 O sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols; but the LORD made the heavens.
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy
13 before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: By reading Isaiah, Jesus shows he is God and Man, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD)
“Now it was necessary that he should manifest himself to the Israelites and that the mystery of his incarnation should now shine forth to those who did not know him. Now that God the Father had anointed him to save the world, he very wisely orders this also [that his fame should now spread widely]. This favor he grants first to the people of Nazareth, because, humanly speaking, he had grown up among them. Having entered the synagogue, therefore, he takes the book to read. Having opened it, he selects a passage in the Prophets which declares the mystery concerning him. By these words he himself tells us very clearly by the voice of the prophet that he would both be made man and come to save the world. For we affirm that the Son was anointed in no other way than by having become like us according to the flesh and taking our nature. Being at once God and man, he both gives the Spirit to the creation in his divine nature and receives it from God the Father in his human nature. It is he who sanctifies the whole creation, both by shining forth from the Holy Father and by bestowing the Spirit. He himself pours forth his own Spirit on the powers above and on those who recognized his appearing. (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 12)