Thursday - Christmas Time
1) Opening prayer
God our Father,
through Christ your Son
the hope of eternal life dawned on our world.
Give to us the light of faith
that we may always acknowledge him as our Redeemer
and come to the glory of his kingdom,
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 4,14-22a
Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone glorified him. He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written: The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.
He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him.
Then he began to speak to them, 'This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.'
And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.
• Animated by the Spirit, Jesus returns toward Galilee and begins to announce the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Being in the community and teaching in the Synagogues, he reaches Nazareth, where he grew up. He was returning to the community, where, since he was small, had participated in the celebration during thirty years. The following Saturday, according to his custom, he went to the Synagogue to be with the people and to participate in the celebrations.
• Jesus rises to go to read. He chooses a text from Isaiah which speaks about the poor, of the prisoners, of the blind and the oppressed. The text reflects the situation of the people of Galilee, in the time of Jesus. 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: to proclaim the Good News to the poor, to proclaim freedom to the prisoners, to restore sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed. Going back to the ancient tradition of the prophets, he proclaims: “a year of grace of the Lord”. He proclaims a jubilee year. Jesus wants to reconstruct the community, the clan in such a way that once again it may be the expression of their faith in God! And then, if God is Father/Mother of all we should all be brothers and sisters of one another.
• In ancient Israel, the great family, the clan or the community, was the basis of social living together. It was the protection of the families and of the persons, the guarantee of the possession of the land, the principal channel of tradition and of the defence of the people. It was a concrete way of embodying the love of God in the love for neighbour. To defend the clan, the community, was the same as defending the Covenant with God. In Galilee at the time of Jesus, there was a two-fold segregation, that of the politics of Herod Antipas (4 BC to 39 AD) and the segregation of the official religion. And this because of the system of exploitation and of repression of the politics of Herod Antipas supported by the Roman Empire. Many people were homeless, excluded and without work (Lk 14, 21; Mt 20, 3.5-6). The result was that the clan, the community, was weakened. The families and the persons remained without any help, without any defence. And the official religion maintained by the religious authorities of the time, instead of strengthening the community, in a way in which it could receive and accept the excluded, strengthened this segregation even more. The Law of God was used to legitimize the exclusion of many people: women, children, Samaritans, foreigners, lepers, possessed, Publicans, sick, mutilated, paraplegic. It was all the contrary of the Fraternity which God had dreamt for all! And this was the political and economic situation, as well as the religious ideology, everything conspired to weaken the local community more and hinder, in this way, the manifestation of the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ program, based on the prophecy of Isaiah, offered an alternative.
• After finishing the reading, Jesus updated the text applying it to the life of the people, saying: “Today, this reading, which you have heard with your own ears, has been fulfilled!” His way of joining the Bible with the life of the people, produced a two-fold reaction. Some remained surprised, amazed and admired. Others had a negative reaction. Some were scandalized and wanted to have nothing more to do with him. They said: “Is he not the son of Joseph?” (Lk 4, 22). Why were they scandalized? Because Jesus says to accept and receive the poor, the blind, the oppressed. But they did not accept his proposal. And thus, when he presented his project to accept the excluded, he himself was excluded!
4) Personal questions
• Jesus joined the faith in God with the social situation of his people. And I, how do I live my faith in God?
• Where I live, are there any blind, prisoners, oppressed? What do I do?
5) Concluding prayer
May his name be blessed for ever,
and endure in the sight of the sun.
In him shall be blessed every race in the world,
and all nations call him blessed. (Ps 72,17)