Thursday after Epiphany

1Jn 4:19–5:4; Ps 72:1-2,14,15,17; Lk 4:14-22

Who doesn’t experience some kind of fraud and violence.  Actually, fraud is a kind violence because it violates a person’s mind.  When someone is a fraud that person deliberately tries to deceive others about his true identity.  Fraud then is mental violence.  The LORD comes to rescue his people from all such violence.  He comes to redeem us.  For our blood is precious in the LORD’s sight.  He comes the Prince of Peace and we bless his name forever. His glory outlasts that of the brightest and closest star.  In this true Prince of Peace all the peoples of the land find blessing; indeed, all the nations on earth rejoice in his rejoicing.  Our LORD rejoices to come with judgment and justice in his Son, Jesus the Christ.  No longer shall the afflicted ones be neglected and ignored.  We are the ones who delight in the redemption of Christ, the Son of God made Man.  We are the ones who hear from the preaching of Saint John the command to love our brothers and sisters as God has loved us.  We, too, joint the crowd in the synagogue at Nazareth in awe and wonder at his preaching.  This Jesus the Christ speaks with power because he comes from the Father and desires the will of the Father.

Saint John seems to preach in today’s first reading with the same kind of power with which Christ preaches in the synagogue.  In Christ, Saint John is able to proclaim the truth that alone will set us free. Because he has known Christ, the Word Made Flesh, he has known the Truth of which he speaks.  Saint John preaches exactly what we need to hear, and hear again, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”  Indeed, the content of our faith, the substance of our faith, that enables us to know with confidence that which we cannot see, makes loving our brothers and sisters not an option.  If we believe, we love.  If we do not love, we do not believe.  Anyone, who loves God, loves those whom God loves.  This is the simple truth that Saint John could write about because he had experienced it while following the Lord Jesus.  As his Beloved Disciple, Saint John’s greatest gift to all who listen to his wisdom is that we too are summoned out of darkness into His Wonderful Light.  We, too, are called to be beloved, precious in his sight.  We, too, share that tender moment at the Last Supper.  For us loving is obeying, and it’s not a burden to love because we have been so loved.  Indeed, this is our victory.  We have conquered the world by our faith lived in love.  In a world that denies the power of tenderness and the urgency of love, we live to love and love to live.

It had been so long since Isaiah had proclaimed these words of tender mercy and powerful promise.  At the time of Jesus, many had forgotten that this promise was not only meant for their ancestors it was also meant for them. It was the Father’s mercy of which Isaiah had spoken.  Not some false hope or empty dream, these prophetic words had power and that power was not exhausted until it was accomplished.  The Lord Jesus came back from the dessert in the power of the same Spirit who had sent him there.  In the same Spirit he selected and proclaimed this messianic promise of Isaiah.  He, who is the Word Made Flesh from the right hand of the Father, spoke of his purpose and ministry to the people among whom he had grown up.  As if spoken by the prophet himself, the Lord Jesus spoke and made the promise anew. At first they were amazed and could only speak highly of him.  After he promised, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”  What else could they do?  Just like their ancestors they wanted to hear good news.  They, too, wanted the Spirit to rest upon someone, anyone.  They longed to hear glad tidings, to be set free, to be able to see again, to receive a year acceptable to the Lord.  At first they did not resist the truth of his words.  Indeed, we are the poor, captives, blind, oppressed.  They could hear in his reading the truth of their own identity.  Can we hear this same truth?  Have we been set free?  Have we accepted the truth that alone can set us free?  We need the Lord Jesus, and he is the fulfillment of all the promises the Father has made to our ancestors and to us.