Homily for the third Sunday of the year - Year C - Lk. 1:1-4 ; 4:14-21


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.


"Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.


"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.' And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, 'Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.' "





Homily:


"Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed."


Today, we begin reading from the Gospel written by Saint Luke, the companion of Saint Paul. Each Sunday of the year, we will read a passage from this Gospel. Thus, Saint Luke will accompany us throughout our liturgical pilgrimage in the year 2001!


Saint Luke the evangelist was a doctor and he endeavoured to make his Gospel an abundant and sure source for all who believe in Christ and who love God: it is perhaps in this sense that he addressed himself to a certain Theophilus, whose name means "he who loves God"...


From the very start, there is Love! The Love of God, as well as the love of neighbor. But it is love in the truth, the truth of God, that which is God! For the believer in Christ loves in a certain way: the believer, the Christian who believes in Christ with all his heart, is a man or woman who founds his or her love of God and man upon the Revelation of God, the Revelation that the Father accomplishes in his Son, who is his Word.


It is because I believe that the Man Jesus is the Son of God, come to earth approximately 2000 years ago, that I love, with all my heart, the one and only God, whom I do not see, but whom I love in loving the men and women I see around me today. My faith in Jesus Christ is begotten in me by the grace of God, but also through the intermediary of all those who preceded me in the faith and who transmitted to me the Revelation of God: my love for the men living today is founded on the Truth that was transmitted to me by those who were "ministers of the word."


In fact, my story, that of my faith, is a little like that of Luke Saint: he too did not see the living Jesus, he too did not receive the Revelation of God from the very mouth of the Master. For it was Saint Paul, that great and celebrated Minister of the Word who had proclaimed to him the coming of the Kingdom of God to earth! Of the four evangelists, Saint Luke is the one who has the most in common with our condition as believers who have not seen Christ...


"Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all."


After omitting chapters 2 and 3, which speak of the childhood of Jesus, we begin reading chapter 4. The beginning of this chapter deals with the temptation of Jesus by the devil, a subject we will re-examine soon, during Lent. Then, Jesus goes to Galilee to inaugurate his ministry. Does Jesus go there alone? Saint Luke does not say: it is a detail which does not seem to interest him. A single thing holds his attention, and ours as well: the person of Jesus!


In fact, Jesus does not go alone to Galilee: he goes there "in the power of the Spirit"! This is what preoccupies Saint Luke: that mysterious companion, who is invisible because he is spiritual, and who is always there with the Master, to strengthen him and help him in his mission! Indeed, how else could the fame of Jesus spread throughout the surrounding country if not through the action of the Spirit who rests upon Christ, the Anointed One of the Lord.


When Jesus teaches in the synagogues, people listen, certainly. But they do not understand everything, and perhaps they understand nothing at all. However, they were struck by a word, a sentence, a well-placed allusion and they remembered it, they continued to think about it... That is when the Spirit goes into action and enlightens them, at first only a little, and later on more powerfully and persuasively, in order for them to believe in Jesus, the Savior of the world... Is this not what Saint Luke himself experienced when he listened to Saint Paul speak?


"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.' And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, 'Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.' "


Jesus came to Nazareth, his home, where everyone knew him, not as the envoy of God, but as "the son of Joseph", the carpenter (cf. Lk. 4:22) So, what must Jesus do to convince his fellow-citizens that he is not only a man, but also, first, the Son of God? Truly, if there is one thing that would be difficult to achieve, this is it! Let us put ourselves for a moment in Jesus' place, if that were possible, and ask ourselves what we would do in such a situation? Undoubtedly, there is only one solution: one must call upon a witness who can plead on our behalf...


It is for this reason that Jesus chooses to read a passage from the Prophet Isaiah that speaks of the Holy Spirit resting upon the envoy of God: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." (Is. 61:1) The Holy Spirit is indeed he who will bear witness to the divinity of Christ: "But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me." (Jn. 15:26) If there is any possibility that Jesus would be acknowledged as the Messiah by his fellow-citizens, it lies in the Power of the Holy Spirit!


The Spirit of God, the Spirit of Love, rests upon Christ: by revealing the Father to us, by preaching his Good News to us, Jesus also gives us his Spirit, his Love, so that we might live, thanks to God, in Truth! This Good News still comes to us today, under the appearance of a little bread: in the Eucharist, Jesus again preaches to us his Good News, in order that the Spirit might live in our hearts to teach us of the Truth, who is God! Let us ask Mary, who is the Bride of the Holy Spirit, to help us to ceaselessly open up our heart to the Word of God!



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