Summary: Leave the success of your life to a power greater than you. Just do the things you were anointed for. Let a power greater than you take care of the ‘how.’
The theme in our Readings this Sunday is that the ‘opening of the Scriptures’ is consonant with ‘the opening of the eyes’. The use of physical seeing as a metaphor for spiritual insight is commonplace. Those that are blind(ed), are unable to read the Scriptures.
E.g. Two young fish are swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way who nods at them and says, “Morning, how's the water?” The two young fish swim on for a bit, when eventually one of them looks over to the other and says, “What water?” The Spirit is around us. This fish story was popularized by, David Wallace Foster, in his 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College.
We can become so immersed in our environment, experiences, histories, and stories, that we overlook what is right before us.
Like fish unaware of the water they are immersed in, people can be unaware of the invisible spirit surrounding them, and how that Holy Spirit specifies by conviction and instruction of God’s very Word.
Our Gospel text today is the oldest known account of a synagogue service. Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus was still going to church faithfully. What would Jesus do? He would go to Mass on Sundays! And he was a Lector too. There was a cycle of readings of the Prophets as well as for the Torah.
Not only did Jesus find an appropriate text in the scroll of the prophet, he says: "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." “Today” is written in the emphatic and is written at the head of a clause. It’s important!! “Today’ ‘in the synagogue’ and ‘in your ears’ is the permanent actuality of this reading. They used a Lectionary like we do, with an assigned reading, so we can hear crucial sequences of readings to vitally instruct us. Particularly in the Second Reading at Mass you’ll hear specific and practical lifestyle instructions about how to deal with different issues.
In our First Reading, God’s word gave the people an extreme makeover. It says that Ezra the priest read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read. The reaction of the people was to cry and weep because they felt overwhelmed by a sense of their ignorance and shortcomings as they realized how far from God’s ways they had fallen. This also happened in the story of Josiah in 2 Kings 22 when they hear the forgotten book of the Law. There was a great moment of clarity, and so Nehemiah says, “Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!" In other words, Nehemiah was saying to stay in the solution now that you know it. Not self-condemnation but rejoice now because you are being reconciled to God.
2. God’s word also directs our life’s work-
Henri Nouwen said that “When we live our lives as missions, we become aware that there is a home from where we are sent and to where we have to return…. When the message has been delivered and the project is finished, we want to return home to give an account of our mission and to rest from our labors.”
The term mission comes from missio, the Latin word for “to send,” which is where the term “Mass” comes from.
Jesus was invited by the president of the synagogue to read and expound a Scripture text. Jesus skips to the part in Isaiah that was applicable to him, but he skipped the last line which is Isaiah 61:2 which actually says, “to proclaim a day of vengeance from our God.” He skips that line because vengeance is not part of his message, he thus critiques and edits his own scriptures. It’s a deliberate suppression of a negative aspect of Isaiah’s message. This is Good news: He is not changing the God the Father’s mind about us; he was changing our mind our God—and thus about one another and what we are called to do.
We got to unroll God’s word in our life and skip, not the entirety of God’s word, but skip the less important things in our life so we can then to complete our life mission.
Mission is bound to charism, “I am not here to try and fix everything, just the things I am anointed for.”
Mission is bound to baptism, which is the basis of lay ministry. Our consecration, our being set apart.
We have to personally apply God’s Word to our lives.
How can I bring glad tidings to the poor? The imprisoned, literally imprisoned debtors? To those bound in compulsive sin. To bring “Release,” which means forgiveness.
Let's adapt the fish story in this way: Imagine two young people walking along, and they happen to pass an older person walking the other way who nods at them and says, “Morning, how's the spirit?” And the two young people walk on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What spirit?”