Power of the Holy Spirit

Luke 4:16-21
Isa 61:1-3a,6a,8b-9 / Ps 89 / Rv 1:5-8

Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.
(Luke 4:21)

The Holy Spirit empowers
In deeds and every word we say;
May you be God’s blessing to others,
And fulfill the Father’s will today.

Jesus went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day He went into the synagogue, as was His custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lk.4:16-21).

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, our Lord could well be speaking both in literal and spiritual language. The “poor” could mean both the materially destitute and the spiritually deprived. The “captives” could also refer both to the imprisoned as well as those under the bondage of sin. The “blind” would be the visually impaired as well as those who have not yet found the light of salvation. What is clear in His message is that He represented God’s Good News of salvation to the Jews of his time as well as to the future followers of His Church. And as His disciples, we must also follow His example.

One of the tests of our faith in community is when some brother or sister or poor people with problems come to us for help. Following the mandate of the Gospel, which we aspire to live fully, Jesus’ words ring clear: “Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow”(Mt. 5:42). St. John also wrote: “Whoever loves God must also love his neighbor” (1 Jn.4:21).

Loving others is never easy, especially when you have problems of your own. The tendency to avoid those who come for help is often too strong to resist. But mindful of our renewed faith, we know we must ‘conquer’ our selfish disposition. I cannot resist “the Spirit of the Lord, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor” (Luke 4:18).

If in times of need we find it hard to give, when we are offended it is even harder to forgive. Fortunately for us, one of the effects of God’s transforming grace is the willingness to forgive. In the renewal, we realize that it is as much for our own good as for the other fellow who has wronged us that we must forgive. We forgive when we no longer carry the grudge or the hurt inflicted on us. Genuine forgiveness brings release from those negative feelings, and freedom to love again the person who has wronged us.

It is not in good times that our faith in Jesus is put to the test. It is in times of need and in times when we are hurting that we are called upon to exercise the love that he has bequeathed to us. It is in this light that Jesus asks us “to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Help me, Lord, to be strong in will and soft in heart during trying times. Amen.

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