Are we in the Church like those fellows in Jesus’ parable today: the blind leading the blind? Are we in the Church simply hoodwinking ourselves? Are we, as some would say, a collection of poor individuals so insecure that we cling on to the merest hope of something beyond this world? Our detractors say that we are deceiving ourselves.
We are presented for consideration today one of the very hardest of Jesus’ commands: "Love your enemies". This injunction comes in the very first sentence of today’s text and the rest of the extract is could be regarded as simply a commentary on it.
There are two quite different accounts of the Beatitudes in the Gospels, one in Matthew and the other one presented to us today in the Gospel of Luke. The one more usually quoted is Matthew’s version while the set given to us by St Luke is much less well known.
This is the first account of Jesus actually teaching the people as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. He has already been baptised, he has been tempted in the wilderness, he was rejected in the synagogue of Nazareth, he has exorcised a demon from a man possessed and he healed many sick people including Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. The last line of the previous chapter does tell us that Jesus was preaching in the synagogues of Judea, but here by Lake Galilee is the first occasion when we are told that he is directly teaching the people, although it will be a while yet before we are told the actual content of his teaching.
The Gospel reading today follows directly on from last Sunday’s account of Jesus reading from the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah in the synagogue of Nazareth. When he was finished he sat down and then with all eyes fixed on him he announced, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ In other words he told them that he was the Messiah so long foretold. These words become the first line of our Gospel reading today.
‘Start as you mean to go on’ is a very good proverb and Jesus certainly does this in our Gospel reading today. He stands up in the synagogue of Nazareth and issues a manifesto; he proclaims a statement of intent for the rest of his public ministry.
And this manifesto is not something made up by himself; it consists of the words of one of the most revered of all the prophets, Isaiah.
Now that the liturgical seasons of Advent and Christmas are over we begin what is prosaically called Ordinary Time. This year is, of course, the year of Luke’s Gospel. But for reasons that might become clear we begin with the story of the first miracle as recorded in the Gospel of John.
It can be said that the Public Ministry of Jesus began with his Baptism at the hands of John the Baptist in the River Jordan. In common with the other Synoptic Gospels St Luke gives us a very short account of this significant event; but, brief though it is, he includes all the essentials
The word Epiphany is Greek and it literally means ‘manifestation’. In the liturgy a distinction had gradually come to be drawn between the actual birth of Christ and the occasion on which his coming was made known to the world. The date chosen for the Epiphany was the 6th January which appropriately coincided with the Jewish Feast of Lights.
Today in our Gospel reading we hear a lovely story from the hidden life of Jesus as a boy. It is about his visit to Jerusalem when he was twelve years old, how he got lost on the return journey and how his parents eventually found him discussing the scriptures with the doctors in the Temple.
Father Alex McAllister SDS
Parish Priest of
St Thomas à Becket