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Gospel for Sunday, January 23 Luke 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21

III Sunday C

1Since many have tried to recount in order the events that took place among us, 2as they were transmitted to us by those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and became ministers of the Word, 3so I too have decided to carefully research every circumstance, right from the beginning, and to write an orderly account of it for you, illustrious Theòphilus, 4so that you can realize the solidity of the teachings you have received. 14Jesus returned to Galilee with the power of the Spirit and his fame spread throughout the region. 15He taught in their synagogues and they gave him praise. 16He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and as usual, on the Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and stood up to read. 17He was given the scroll of the prophet Isaiah; he opened the scroll and found the passage where it was written: 18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; for this reason he has anointed me and sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberation to prisoners and sight to the blind; to set the oppressed at liberty, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s grace”. 20He rewound the scroll, handed it back to the attendant and sat down. In the synagogue, everyone’s eyes were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

JESUS, THE YEAR OF GRACE

In the Old Testament (Lev 25,8-41), the Lord proposes the Jubilee as the supreme form of protection of the disinherited and the miserable. In a society where the inexorable events of life lead some to become rich and others to become impoverished, or even to fail, God urges Israel to periodically experience a year, called the “jubilee”, as a moment of complete redistribution of goods and the recomposition of a society of equals. Every fifty years God proposes the complete elimination of private property and a new distribution between brothers.

In the New Testament there is a passage that explicitly recalls the Jubilee prescribed in Leviticus: it is the one in which Jesus, in the synagogue of Nazareth, applies the oracle of Isaiah to himself (Is 61,1-2), announcing that he has been consecrated to “preach the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk 4,16-21). The year “dektòs” (Lk 4,19.24; Acts 10,35), that is, “accepted”, “welcome” or, as our Bibles translate, “of grace”, is in fact the jubilee year, the year that realizes God’s dream of a world of free, equal, truly brothers (Lk 4,18-19). Jesus then announces that he was “sent to announce a happy message to the poor”: for the Jews this “gospel” was par excellence the news of the end of slavery.

By exegeting this very important proclamation, with which Jesus characterizes his mission, we note that he actually modifies the text of Isaiah (Is 61,1-2): he omits the “binding of the wounds of the broken heart” (Is 61 ,1), perhaps to avoid giving rise to excessive spiritualisations, and adds “to set the oppressed at liberty (“àphesis”), a verse taken instead from another passage of Isaiah (Is 58,6), precisely to underline the maxim concreteness of his liberation intervention. Furthermore, he neglects to speak of the “day of vengeance for our God” (Is 61.2), the day of condemnation of the pagan nations, thus giving a universalistic dimension to his jubilee proclamation. Jesus’ intent is clear: to declare liberation (“àphesis”) from all social inequality, from all suffering, from all oppression, to finally proclaim “blessed” the poor, the hungry, the afflicted (Lk 6,20-21) of all the nations of the earth.

But in the New Testament the term “àphesis” will acquire an eminently religious interpretation: in fifteen of the seventeen passages in which it appears it identifies the “forgiveness” of sins (Mk 1.4; Mt 26.28; Lk 1.77…) . This means, in the overall New Testament announcement, that only by being reconciled with God can we become capable of building a world of justice and freedom; only freed from sin, filled with the love of God, can we “console those who are in any kind of affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God” (2 Cor 1,4); but also that there is no forgiveness of sins if conversion does not transform one into workers of justice towards the marginalized.

Attention therefore to the movement of this revelation: conversion, reconciliation is required, but not out of an intimate sense of being saved, but to already free all the oppressed of the earth; and our human justice is the indispensable basis for making divine justification effective in us; certain, however, that divine Salvation does not end in the space of this world, but that it transcends human liberations in the divinization of man in God (Rm 8,17). In Nazareth, Jesus, after reading the aforementioned passage from Isaiah, makes a fundamental announcement: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled” (Lk 4:21): the characteristics of the Jubilee year are now fulfilled in Christ! In Jesus Christ the Jubilee “year of grace” is now complete, the brotherhood and equality between men that God has always dreamed of is achieved.

THE MESSIAH OF THE POOR

From the beginning of his public life, Jesus therefore proclaims that he came for the liberation of the poor and oppressed. And when John the Baptist sends him to ask if he is the Messiah, Jesus says: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Lk 7,18-22). Jesus’ response to the Baptist’s messengers is divided into six signs: the only non-miraculous one comes last, but it is the most important, because he summarizes them all: “The good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Lk 7.22) . Jesus comes for all those in need, for those deprived of health, life, possessions… And his life was all about concretely helping those who were suffering: “He went about doing good and healing everyone” (Acts 10.38).

But Jesus not only concretely heals the troubled people he encounters: he came to “evangelize” them, that is, to let them know that they are loved in a particular way by God, and that God will put an end to their suffering, through the incarnation, death and resurrection of the Son.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at migliettacarlo@gmail.com.

Source

Spazio Spadoni

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