Gospel Reflections

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

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

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Eileen Burns

Published: January 27, 2019

Here we are in the third week of ordinary time.  Today's gospel is from Luke who was a second or third generation Christian.  He admits that because he was not there at the beginning when Jesus walked among us, he decided to investigate, to organize the story and to write it all down.  Luke probably needed to do this for himself but also for someone named Theophilus, a name which means "friend of God."  Luke does this so "you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.”  How would you organize the Jesus story if you were to write down an "orderly account?" What would be important for you to include?

People have been doing this over the millenia.  Parents have been teaching their children. Teachers have been helping to form the minds, hearts and souls of their students.  Religious education teachers and RCIA teams have shared our faith.  It is a process of receiving and giving that we have all been part of in one way or the other. 

I saw a TED talk by Roberto Rivera a few days ago.  In it he talks about education as coming from the Latin "educare" meaning to bring out what is already there.  You may want to Google his eighteen minute talk in which he describes himself as a hope dealer.  So, Luke, too, writes to someone who is already a believer.  Luke writes to us to draw out what is already within us - to sharpen our grasp on what we believe and in whom we believe.

Today's reading skips from chapter one to chapter four.  What should we be certain about? Luke teaches through Jesus actions - “he went to the synagogue according to his custom.” We know Jesus often prayed alone, and here Luke slips in that Jesus had a habit of praying communally as well.  Jesus stood up to read - was he volunteering or did he know ahead that he would be reading? It was not like our lectors who know ahead what they will be reading. Jesus is given a scroll of the book of Isaiah. In our bibles it is sixty-six chapters but there are 3 parts to it so it is not likely that they gave him the whole thing.  Jesus “found” which meant he had to unroll and search for what we find in Isaiah sixty-one.

There are a lot of details given by Luke. Jesus rolls the scroll back up. He hands it back to the attendant.  He sits down. The eyes of all in the synagogue look intently at Jesus. What kind of messages from God have grabbed your attention recently and led you to look intently at God?

The quote from Isaiah is one of mission:

“The Spirit of God is upon me because God has anointed me.” What anointings have you received?  Baptism, confirmation, sacrament of the sick, ordination?  How have your anointings, your solitary and communal prayers, your experiences nurtured in you a sense of mission?

What are we to do with our lives? ...bring glad tidings to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year acceptable to God. We must do our own inner work to be freed, to see clearly and to live whole lives.  We must also do our part to be with and for those made poor by our society, our ways of doing things.  We are called to be creative,  contemplative, compassionate and persistent.

This is our Jesus: an orderly account, knowing where to find what he was looking for, a summary of the anointed one’s mission. How are you, how are we living the mission as “friends of God?”


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