Jesus unrolled the scroll, read that powerful passage with all eyes on him in the synagogue where he grew up, and then exclaimed that the prophecy was fulfilled in him. What happened next as those around him reacted to his proclamation? Amazement? Disbelief? Skepticism? Scorn?
If I put myself in the scene and imagine my own reaction, it would go something like this. If someone stood up in church and shared that they were sent to “set prisoners free, restore sight to the blind, and bring great news to the poor,” I’m pretty sure my first honest reaction would be something in the line of, “This guy’s a nut case! How in the world did he get in here? Who does he think he is?”
Needless to say, I wouldn’t have reacted very positively, so I find it hard to believe that those attending synagogue that day “spoke favorably of him and marveled at his eloquence,” as the next few verses of that Gospel go on to read. What have I missed? I wasn’t there, of course, and it was the Son of God who spoke! He obviously touched hearts and impressed those around him. There were more than words communicated that day.
So, what’s the deeper message for me imbedded in this “Good News?” I can’t free prisoners literally, nor can I give sight to the blind. As I ponder it, it occurs to me there is another way to receive those words than the literal meaning. Maybe my “mission” is to help others be freed from fears, anxieties, or disillusionment. Maybe my “mission” is to be a hopeful person. People can be bound by the inability to believe in themselves, by negative thoughts and behaviors, by unrealistic goals and dreams for their future. In sharing hope, I can help to break binding chains and help to set others free.
I know we all can be blinded by illusions and false icons like power, control, and popularity. Maybe my “mission” is to look further, deeper inside of myself and find what is really important, what really shines brighter and truer. Love, kindness, compassion are the eyes through which I believe Jesus wants me to see myself and others. This is a way of giving sight to the blinded.
In many ways, the poor are all around me; even rich people are needy for what money cannot buy. Kindness, sympathy, understanding, and empathy do not have a price but usually can help fill a void. Maybe my “mission” is to offer a smile to those in the elevator, or share a grateful word to those who help me at the grocery counter, or offer encouragement with a written note to someone away in college or in the service. Simple acts of goodness that I can easily perform!
What about you? Is there a message to ponder that speaks to your heart in this Gospel?
Thanks to our guest blogger, Sister Barbara Rohe, CDP, for this reflection! Sr. Barbara is a former pastoral associate, faith formation director, catechist, high school teacher and administrator. She presently serves on Provincial Leadership Team of the Sisters of Divine Providence.