Carry the Lord in your heart this Monday!
Praying for you,
“Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” – Luke 4:21
There’s a big bridge in Nanjing, China, where in the past, over a thousand desperate Chinese have jumped off to their death.
In 2004, Chen Si saw a man who threw his shoes into the river. One leg was already over the railing. He ran to him, grabbed him by the waist, and pushed him to the ground. And the man just cried.
Chen learned that the man was a farmer who had brought his entire wheat harvest to the city, but a business partner stole all the proceeds from him. Without any money to give to his family, he simply wanted to die. Chen gave the man some money and told him to go home.
Since then, Chen Si has spent his weekends driving up and down this bridge, rescuing people. In his heart, Chen Si said, “I must do something.”
The result? So far, he has rescued 144 persons from death. Chen Si is a hero because he cares.
If you look around you, there are many who are losing hope. You can be like Chen Si.
All you have to do is care — and put that care into simple action. If you do that, you will be fulfilling what the Scripture demands of us: to love one another. Bo Sanchez (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reflection: How can you show someone that you care — today?
The Gospel does not rely on us for its power, and thanks be to God for that! It has an inherent power due to the fact that it is the Word of God for our salvation. Paul knows that it is not the preacher’s job to give the Gospel its power, just a voice. The Holy Spirit will prepare the hearts of the people to receive the Gospel. The truth of the Gospel will speak for itself and then it is up to the individual to act upon the word as it is proclaimed.
1 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, proclaiming the mystery of God, I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, 4 and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, 5 so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
R: Lord, I love your commands.
97 How I love your law, O Lord! It is my meditation all the day. (R) 98 Your command has made me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. (R) 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers when your decrees are my meditation. (R) 100 I have more discernment than the elders, because I observe your precepts. (R) 101 From every evil way I withhold my feet, that I may keep your words. (R) 102 From your ordinances I turn not away, for you have instructed me. (R)
Jesus places His ministry very clearly within the context of Messianic longing. This text from Isaiah is full of hope in the coming of the Messiah and all that the people believed would come with Him. We, too, need to have this hope in this time of the Second Coming of Jesus, by trusting in the present-day empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Jesus does not shrink from the importance of His role; rather, He puts it front and center, so to speak. This is where the Gospel should be in our lives every day.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
16 Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read 17 and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” 20 Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. 21 He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph?” 23 He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’ ” 24 And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. 25 Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. 26 It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. 27 Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. 29 They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. 30 But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
think: We need to have hope in this time of the Second Coming of Jesus — by trusting in the present-day empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Psalm 36-40
THE CROSS OR EMPTY PROMISES?
There are three parts in today’s passage. First, Jesus returns to Nazareth and reads lines from the prophet Isaiah that would characterize His entire ministry. He did not come on His own but the Spirit is upon Him. He did not come to free the Jews but to show mercy, love and compassion to those who suffer. And the people praise Him and love Him for that.
But then comes the second: Jesus realizes that His townmates praise Him because they expect Him to work miracles. So He has some harsh words for them to wake them up and direct them to a proper attitude.
The third part is the saddest: His townmates reject Him and they even want to kill Him. Jesus leaves Nazareth, never to return.
Jesus always speaks straight to the point. In the First Reading, St. Paul spoke similarly. He was in Greece when philosophers went around teaching, using great words and lofty philosophical thoughts. St. Paul made it clear that, like Jesus, he does not try to win his audience with lofty words and ideas. He teaches the unpopular truth about the crucified God, who does not address the mind but appeals to the heart. When the heart is moved, the person becomes convinced.
Even today, many Catholics are swayed by the clever talks of preachers they see on TV. They try to convince people that if they follow what they preach, the Lord will bless them with everything they need. That’s nicer than listening to Jesus, who says that if we want to follow Him we have to take up our cross, or to St. Paul, who preaches a crucified Lord.
If you had been in the synagogue of Nazareth, would you have rejected Jesus because of His harsh words? Or if you belonged to a community of St. Paul, would you rather have listened to the clever philosophers or to Paul who preached the crucified Lord?
It is up to us whom to follow. May we find the words of the Son of God more convincing than what clever preachers try to sell. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Are you easily swayed by preachers of the so-called prosperity gospel? Or do you follow the sometimes harsh demands of Christ?
Lord, it is not easy to follow You. Humanly speaking, You demand too much. But only You have the words of eternal life that will guide me to my goal: to be with You forever.
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