14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
In in today’s Gospel we find Jesus sounded like…well, like kind of a jerk!
This proclamation does seem very audacious of Jesus, and we can understand why the people gathered in the temple that day did not receive these words very well! They did not know Jesus like we do.
Imagine if someone stood up in the middle of your church service, and proclaimed that he or she was fulfillment of the scriptures, or in other words: “God’s gift to the world”!! You may think that this person is very arrogant, and full of themselves!
We have all known people like this, who think that they are “all that…” Sometimes it is our co-workers, our partners (or ex-partners), teachers, our kids, and even ourselves! There have been times when I felt very full of myself because I chose to be a single father…but then, as it does, reality comes back to keep me ‘right sized’!
It is part of human nature to sometimes get ahead of ourselves, just like there are many times when we are unjustly hard on ourselves…few of us are perfect, not as children, spouses, friends, co-workers or even as parents. This is okay, for we are not called to be perfect, and immersed in God’s gracious love, we are forgiven and freed to fulfill the scriptures by being God’s gift to the world, through sharing the compassion and love of God with each other!
If we re-read today’s gospel, we see that Jesus is not proclaiming himself to be God’s gift, but is only quoting the scriptures! Jesus is teaching those in the temple, and each of us, that we are called to be God’s gift to the world, by sharing the good news of God’s love with all who need to experience it for themselves!
When we forgive others for their moments of weakness and arrogance, when we make amends for our own failings, when we take on the responsibilities of being a single parent, and are there to help our children and others when they are struggling, when we give hope and direction to those who are feeling lost and alone, we are fulfilling the scriptures, and being God’s gift!
And if we are to truly follow Jesus, we are called to share God’s gifts not through arrogance but through humility, because to help others and then act as if we are “All that…” because we did it, can ruin it for us, taking away any good feelings we may get from doing the right thing…I know!
Through humbly acting as God’s gift to the world, we will be teaching our children how to share these gifts in their own lives: quietly, and honestly, without bravado or arrogance…and they, in turn can teach this lesson to all those around them, perhaps even to their own children one day.
As the old hymn goes, “…they will know we are Christians by our love” and that is all the promotion we need, and making God’s love known to the world, and encouraging others to do the same was how Jesus called upon us to fulfill the scriptures in all that we do! When we do this we truly will be “All that…” for our children, for others and for ourselves!
Let Us Pray:
Dear God, please help us to humbly follow you, and never to feel as if we are “All that…” because we have been immersed in your grace and forgiveness. Please let us remember that this is a gift that can best be shared through offering humble service to all those around us, both through what we do and say and also through the example we set for our children. Help us to always shine the light of your love wherever we go and in all that we do.