The Smiling Heretic's Blog

Epiphany 4 :: Let’s get him!

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“…all in the synagogue were filled with rage."

How quickly public opinion can change! Jesus has just given the message at his local synagogue, quoting from the Prophet Isaiah about good news and freedom and God’s favor and telling the folks that they are witnesses to this prophetic fulfillment. The crowd is amazed and are hardly able to believe that Joe and Mary’s boy could be so eloquent in his speech. Such praise: 

“Let’s throw him a party!”

“He’s made something of himself.”

“Our native son has all grown up and done well!”

“Good for us!”

But wait. Hearing all this praise, Jesus lets the people in on a secret: “This message, these prophetic words of Isaiah aren’t coming true just for you, they’re for everyone. Everyone! Yes, you are included, but so are the gentiles. And the Samaritans, and folks from Moab and Syria and Rome and all people throughout the world. Everyone is included in God’s good and favorable plan. You think that I am a prophet, but only on your terms. That won’t do at all. My message is for all humanity!”

Epiphany 3 :: Fulfilling Scripture?

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“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Oh. Really?

I think that’s what I might be led to say if someone stood up in church and read from Isaiah 61—the passage which Jesus reads in today’s Gospel. What good news to the poor are you talking about? Yeah, some American captives in Iran have been released, but what about the tens [hundreds?] of millions of captives, prisoners, and oppressed people throughout the world who are still being held in bondage? And don’t get me started about proclaiming the Lord’s favor! I can think of dozens and dozens of groups who believe God favors them. And all at the expense of others.

So, yeah. I would find it hard to believe this scripture has been fulfilled in my hearing! Unless… 

Unless what we are hearing is God’s clarion call to us to make sure that these things do happen. That we bring good news to the poor by working tirelessly to eradicate the causes of poverty and desperation. That we begin to see others as our sisters and brothers, members of the same human family to which we belong, so that we treat all with equality, respect, love, and forgiveness. That we proclaim God’s favor on all of creation, not just our little corner of it.

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