In yesterday’s Gospel from St Luke, the epiphanies continue concerning the nature, person, and mission of the Lord Jesus. The setting, in the synagogue in Nazareth on a Sabbath, stresses the unified sweep of divine revelation. Though offering to the world an unheard-of portrayal of the being and action of God, Jesus nonetheless does do out of the heart of Jewish worship and tradition. Luke stresses the rootedness of the eternal Word in this world, with very specific local and personal references: “He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.” How beautiful, I think, this familiarity and ordinariness of Jesus’ mode of existence in his native Galilean environment!
The occasion signals the beginning of Jesus’ “public life” and activity in Luke. All of Jesus’ future mission is here shown to flow from a most human setting and situation, and at the same time from an act of worship, a proclamation of the prophetic Word, and its interpretation by the Incarnate Word himself as Jesus preaches his “homily”. But everything occurs harmoniously, through the strict, orderly observance of ancient religious traditions and rituals, since these had themselves been established according to the ordinances of the Law of the living God, given out of love for his chosen people. Yet, the utter newness of the situation is that the Word of God, which previously had been spoken through the mouths of the great prophets, now appears in person, in the human form bestowed on him by Blessed Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit, the very power that now impels Jesus forward into his mission. The extraordinary event hides under everyday appearances.
But what is at stake for us in all of this? Nothing short of eternal regeneration to the life of God by the energy of the same Holy Spirit, as he transforms us into members of Christ’s Body. Jesus’ actions and words in the synagogue are tantamount to this 30-year-old Nazarean declaring himself the Messiah of God: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”, he affirms. And St John applies this momentous revelation to each one of us when he declares: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is begotten by God.” The incarnation of the Word, Jesus’ undertaking his public mission, his interpretation of Scripture, and his declaration concerning himself in the synagogue, all have but one goal: our rebirth in him as children of the same heavenly Father. Let us not squander such extravagant divine generosity!
Reflection by Father Simeon.