Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled.
John the Baptist was not the Messiah. He said no when asked. The Lord walked into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, took into his hand the scroll that was handed to him, unrolled the scroll and found the famous passage from Isaiah, “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, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
After reading what was handed to him, Jesus told everyone, “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words, I am the one who was to come. Or better, “I AM.”
At first, they were all amazed at Jesus – his wisdom, his knowledge, his talents at such a young age and despite his poor background and education. But then the crowd turned on him with that most interesting of human reactions: shock. Shock is more than surprise, it is disbelief. It is a lack of faith and immediately the Lord sets off a firestorm! Why? Who are you? How can this be? They spoke highly of him when he was a no body, but know that he was a “somebody”; they could not stand to hear it. A prophet is not welcomed in his own town. (cf. Lk 4:24)
“I have come to set the world on fire and how I wish it were already ablaze!” Christ came to give and take, to divide and conquer, to separate and save, and to separate and burn! Those who believe are saved. Those who do not are condemned. This is unsettling for those who have much; are seated in high places, or consider themselves something when they are really nothing! This saying is absolutely liberating, for those who are captive, for those who are oppressed; lonely and caring for the orphan, the sick and the poor. This is absolutely hair-raising for the heroic single parent, the lonely child, the vagabond, the abandoned elderly, the mentally or physically ill; the unstable. This may all be liberating for them but is it true for us? For those who have received so much? I would have to say that it is frightening, to say the least.
Everyone appreciates a boss that tells them what is expected of them. Everyone would love to work for someone like that. The work is clear, the expectations are clear; nothing is left to chance. The Lord does the same for us. He tells us what he expects from us. Every Christian is asked to set the world ablaze, and to bring glad tidings to those who suffer.
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict, in his book, What it Means to Be a Christian, writes that if Christianity is going to make any inroads in our society today, it must be more than brave. It must be heroic!
“In our generation the Christian Faith finds itself in a much deeper crisis than at any other time in the past. In this situation it is no solution to shut our eyes in fear in the face of pressing problems, or to simply pass over them. If faith is to survive this age, then it must be lived, and above all, lived in this age. And this is possible only if a manifestation of faith is shown to have value for our present day, by growing to knowledge and fulfillment.” May the Lord fulfill Scripture with our lives!
Lord, convert our lives into your life just as you do in the wonderful exchange, at the altar, of bread and wine into your body and blood. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
By Fr. Alfonse