Collect of the Day
O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Gospel Reading of the Day, Luke 4:14-30
14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ 23 He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.” ’ 24 And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. 25 But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 There were also many lepers* in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ 28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30 But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
This has been one of my favorite scriptures for a long time. Jesus chose the ancient passage from Isaiah as the "text" for his ministry. This was his "calling" and reflects God's love and commitment to his people. Jesus lived this text/mission in the face of religious and secular powers that would ultimately put him to death.
That leads to another reason I like this scripture -- Jesus put the religious powers in their place. He was insightful, clever and bold. They were left speechless and reduced to violence and then became powerless in his presence. Great drama where
I need this scene from Jesus' experience for yet another reason. Let's suppose Jesus came to St. Luke's on a Sunday morning. Being a thoughtful priest, I would invite Jesus to preach. He would open the scriptures to Isaiah and the drama would again begin to unfold. Except this time you and I are the religious folks in charge. Wonder what Jesus would have to say about us -- our rules and expectations and exclusivity and hypocrisy? What would he say about our relationships -- with God, each other and those who suffer? Would he actually come to church?
I/We need to hear this story from time to time as a "wake-up call" and let Jesus actually come and show us his way of being in the world loving as God loves.