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Minnesota Episcopal
Environmental
Stewardship
Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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Lectionary Reflection

Year C, Epiphany 3
Gospel Reading
Episcopal Standard Lectionary and Revised Common Lectionary

Luke 4:14-21

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. 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, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

"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, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

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. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

 

Reflection on Luke 4:14-21
by John G. Gibbs, PhD

The gospel text for today initiates the long section in Luke 4:14-9:50 that describes Jesus' ministry in Galilee. What was his ministry about, what did he intend to do, with what main purpose was he moving through Galilee and, finally, toward Jerusalem (9:51)? Luke finds his answers in Jesus' opening public message at the synagogue of his hometown (Nazareth).

Jesus focuses from the outset and throughout his ministry on the poor, the captives, the blind, the oppressed; and on what is to be done for them: good news for the poor, release for captives, sight for the blind, freedom for the oppressed. Those are the particulars of "the Lord's favor" (4:19). Those actions detail what "the power of the Spirit" (4:14) does in ordinary daily life.

It is a peculiar community that Jesus assembles - nonetheless, just what you would expect from a leader, a teacher, a spiritual director who thinks and moves and has her/his being within the prophetic tradition. In fact, Jesus chose to start with the prophetic message in Isaiah that he read and expounded (Is. 61:1-2; cf. 58:6ff.). If a community of God's people, in synagogue or church, aims to become as strong as "oaks of righteousness," if they want their history to be written as if they had been "the planting of the Lord" (Is. 61:3), then these kinds of actions will typify their life for the common good.

Life in the Spirit, as Jesus understood it, does not revolve around our self-consciousness. It reaches out to include the excluded, to gather the separated, to link the horizon to the Center. Spiritual life takes strange bedfellows, the "No People" in Hosea's prophecy (Hos. 2:23), and builds them into "God's People."

The Spirit of God that secured the creation in the midst of chaos continues in our time to establish the inclusive Shalom of Eco-Justice. When rivers cannot reach the ocean because the rich have stolen their waters from the poor, then it is time for God's People to think, vote, and act in support of Eco-Justice. When Arctic sea-ice shrinks faster and faster, and glaciers melt more and more, then it is time for God's people to think, vote, and act in support of the ecosystems (including the people) that are imperiled by "affluent societies" run amok. When this Quarter's bottom line robs the Class of 2020 of its inheritance, then it is time for God's People to think, vote and act on behalf of sustainable economy. What Jesus started in Nazareth points in the direction of Eco-Justice for all creatures, ourselves included.

 

Printable version

 

To Reflections on other Readings for Year C, Epiphany 3

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal)
Lectionary
Revised Common
Lectionary
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
Nehemiah 8: 2-10
Nehemiah 8: 1-3, 5-6, 8-10
Psalm
New Testament Lesson
1 Corinthians 12: 12-27
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Gospel
Luke 4: 14-21
(this page)
Luke 4: 14-21
(this page)

John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, resided in Park Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 2010. John and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:


MEESC
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

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