January 23, 2022: Jesus proclaims God in his life; Are we ready to do the same?
Last weekend, we began the return to Ordinary Time. We have reboxed Christmas and put it away. All of a sudden, the baby in the manger has become an adult.
The hesitant Jesus stood before us and we watched his mother Mary push him into his more public ministry for which He came.
Jesus gave us his first sign: Water can be changed into wine, the ordinary into the extraordinary, the “same ole, same ole” into something completely new and different, the boring into a more stimulating life.
Jesus is the sign. He brings water and wine together, and we are the signs when bring water and wine together.
So, what happened to Jesus between who he was in the story last Sunday and who he is today? He seems to have found himself. He seems to know that he is to be more than a carpenter. St. Luke begins his Gospel, not ever having met Jesus, but certainly drawn into the early community of faith. He wants all to capture the important information that was known about him.
St. Luke knew that it was important to write it all down, lest anyone forget, to capture the spirit of the New Way at the end of the first century, to make sure that someone else, anyone else, would know the risen Jesus as St. Luke had come to know him.
St. Luke tells us that he investigated everything, had talked to all the eyewitnesses, as many as he could find, before they died. He tells us that he wanted to be accurate and to tell the story of Jesus in an orderly sequence. And St. Luke tells us that we can trust what he has put together as certain – all the main characters, all the principal teachings and all that was unbelievable that Jesus made believable.
Last Sunday, we saw a more hesitant Jesus, through the eyes of St. John, another gospel writer – perhaps the last one to write a gospel summary of Jesus’ life.
There is no hesitation today. Jesus makes a wild, passionate debut in the synagogue at Nazareth. To the consternation of everyone that Saturday morning in the Synagogue, Jesus opens his mouth, opens his heart, and reveals the truth of who is, not in his own words, but in the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring the good news…” to proclaim spiritual freedom, to proclaim God’s mercy – to become what God had always wanted his people to be.
If we had been there that day, we would have seen our jaws drop, eyes bulge, restless in the stone seats surrounding the walls of the Synagogue. St. Luke describes it: “The eyes of all looked intently at him.”
What would he say next? How much more could he shock them? Who does he think that he is? He is no more than one of us. He grew up as a kid in our small town, and then, to top it off, Jesus says that “this passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
I am not going to tell you what happens next week, but I will tell you, “it ain’t pretty.”
“What in the hell is Jesus doing this week?” – that is what we would ask. Well, the first thing that he is doing is acting without any inhibition. No s-h-i-t! Exclamation point.
Today is the Sunday of the Word of God in the third annual observance created by Pope Francis in 2019. More than a written or a spoken “Word,” Jesus is a living “Word.” It is a person, Jesus. Today he personalizes who He is, out there for his father, with no inhibitions.
Catholics are known for their inhibitions. They over-personalize their faith in Jesus and tend to keep it to themselves. They are not equipped to talk and to share about it. Many keep it to themselves. It is kind of odd, that five Catholics could live together in the same house, practice the same faith tradition but never actually talk or share about it.
Perhaps today, Jesus is too much; and next week, the story has those very people who sat with him in the Synagogue taking him outside to stone him and throw him over a cliff.
Why? Because Jesus claimed that he was the anointed Son of God.
We continue to read from St. Paul’s letter that we began last week that makes the same claim for each one of us who are baptized. We are members, brothers and sisters of the same anointed one, St. Paul says. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body… and we were all given to drink of one Spirit” – Spirit with a capital “S.”
St. Paul uses the image of a human body, all parts connected to each other and unable to function without each other to illustrate what has happened to us because of Jesus. We are connected to Jesus and to one another.
Maybe we are not ready yet to stand up and be “Jesus” in our own way. Maybe we are not ready to stand up and let everyone know “that the Spirit of the Lord is upon me.”
Today’s Jesus feels called to do what God is asking him to do for his life: to proclaim and to show God in his life.
When will we be ready to do the same?