Gospel of Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
"Since many of undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received. Jesus returned to Galilee, in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where He had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it is written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, "today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing".
As we read this passage slowly, a few things jump out. First, St. Luke, the Gospel author whom we learn about through the words in the first sentence, is interesting, a type of servant leader, detail oriented and patient. We can see this in the painstaking investigation he did, to seek and gather the Truth. Then there is "Nazareth", and just what does that place means to Jesus? His home, familiar grounds, friendships, relatives, memories. The words, "power of the Spirit," what does this mean? And lastly, just watching our Lord open the scroll.....
Here, we will just pick one as our main focus. The words,"power of the Spirit." What is this "power of the Spirit?" It is Love. The Holy Spirit is Love, is the "power", the fullness of Love. Love is a power, is a need, is a strength for us! Our Lord returned in the Power of the Spirit in the power of LOVE, after....the Temptations in the wilderness. This strength comes, after the endurance of temptations, to sensuality, vanity and pride. This power comes, after enduring the aching pain of the desolation found in the wilderness, in the loniliness, in the stark and austere wilderness. This wilderness is found in our hearts in these desolate times. This power of His Spirit, of His love comes after these times as we endure them. His love is poured into our hearts-
The Love of God has been poured into our hearts too by the grace of our Baptism and the power of our confirmation. Do we call upon this gifts? Do we recall we have these gifts? They are in us. The more "in tune" we are with God, the more they gifts "move" freely in us, moving us in the direction we need to go, at any given moment. A retreat director once said to me,: "Ask the Holy Spirit every day for the plan, you will never feel " in control of things because the truth is-you're not!" and these words remain with me now and I live by them. If we allow, if we permit the Holy Spirit to govern us, we will find ourselves "out of control" out of the driver's seat and that is by far, the best way to travel, in allowing His lead to prevail. Do I allow the power of the Spirit, the Spirit of Love to lead me? Love always seeks the best of the one loved. How is this passage today fulfilled in my hearing? Let us ask ourselves this question. What is Love asking me to do? to respond to? to move on? to say? to not say? What "words" of His are fulfilled in my hearing today? What words, have I heard from Him, received from Him and allowed to move me into action?
- "He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor". What are glad tidings? A smile, a word of kindness, a word of encouragement, a word of hope and love. His anointing is upon you and me to bring His joy, His hope, His love. Am I a carrier of love, hope and joy? or do I carry another spirit, of discouragement, negativity, self focus?
- "He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives". How am I held bound? what binds me? what am I afraid to ask the Lord to set free, because I don't know how to live without it? Where is fear robbing my freedom? What am I held captive by? Human respect? Money? Need for attention? Where in my life do I see another bound? Do I love them enough to go there with them, to help them?
- "Recovery of sight to the blind". How am I blind, with whom do I fail to see goodness? To see God's beauty, image and likeness? Has unforgiveness shaded my vision?
- "To let the oppressed go free". Who am I holding boundby not forgiving them, by not accepting their apology? Do I forgive myself? Do I allow the Father's mercy to cut me free?
- "To proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord". Do I strive personally to walk on the path of peace-the path of holiness? Do I encourage others to live a life of discipleship, listening and responding to His Word ? Am I deeply respectful of the human person, keeping my words charitable, never attacking those who are living a holier life than I?
"Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may be holy, act in me O Holy Spirit that my work too may be holy, draw my heart O Holy Spirit that I love but what is holy, strengthen me O Holy Spirit to defend all that is holy, guard me then O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy" (St. Augustine)