The mission of Jesus

Outside of the US which celebrates Labor Day, the Catholic lectionary begins the reading of Luke’s Gospel with the visit of Jesus to the temple in Nazareth.

Jesus is given the scroll of the book of the prophet Isaiah and reads, in an edited form, Isaiah 61.

As he finishes, Jesus tells his neighbors, “Today this is fulfilled in your hearing.”

This is what Jesus is about. This is the saving message.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
because the Spirit has anointed me
to preach Good News to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and sight to the blind,
to liberate the oppressed,
and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

What is Good News to the poor?

God has come.

When God has come, when God is at the center of our faith lived out in just lives, the world will change.

The captives will be freed. The prison bars will be broken and the doors to detention centers will be opened.

Those who are blind will see.

The oppressed will be liberated. They will be free from the dictators, the bosses, the powers that keep them down.

The year of the Lord’s favor – the Jubilee Year – will be proclaimed. Debts will be forgiven; the land that has been taken away from them will be returned; those who have been enslaved will be freed.

But almost 20 centuries after Jesus proclaimed this Good News, the world the poor experience is still bad news.

Jesus began this. He promised that this will be.

So now we have the challenge to be good news to the poor, to do the works of justice, to be signs of a world that reflects the Reign of God.


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