Homily: The Spirit of the Lord is Upon You
In our first reading today, from the book of the prophet Isaiah, the prophet looks forward to the time when God will save Jerusalem. God says: “I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river.”
The reading from the gospel according to Luke describes the fulfillment of this promise. The reading is part of Luke’s long account of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. As Jesus traveled toward Jerusalem he sent thirty-six pairs of disciples ahead of him to all the places he intended to visit on his way. They were to prepare the people for Jesus’ coming. When they entered any house, they were to say, “Peace to this household.” If a peaceable person lived there, peace would rest on him or her.
Luke’s gospel portrays Jesus’ followers going out into the world with no safety net. Jesus’ followers are to be persons on the move, alive to the present moment in all of its possibilities, positive and negative. In all things, what is needed is a new creation, a dynamism to match the world which is evolving, one that inspires us to go beyond the world as it is to the world that God imagines for us, for this good earth and its inhabitants. God will never forsake us, but will provide possibilities for growth and every step of the way. (Bruce Epperly Lancaster Theological Seminary )
It’s too bad that our Gospel today doesn’t include the whole passage through verse 24 so we could hear the words: “I tell you, many prophets and kings desired to see the things you are seeing, and they did not see, and to hear the things you are hearing, but did not hear it.”
I wish that we could hear those words because we who are alive now are privileged with a particular opportunity, a particular resonance to Jesus words that “today the scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
At the beginning of the millennium scientists and economists told us that we have an opportunity within our lifetime, to see an end to suffering and hunger we’re used to thinking of as unbearable if we can bear to think of it at all. We have an opportunity to see the end of extreme poverty, of people living on less than a dollar of day, of a child dying every three seconds of easily preventable diseases.
Poverty as we know it could be eliminated. What was spoken of doesn’t entirely encompass the scope of God’s mission, of the reach of God’s limitless love for the world, They’re a timely, if modest, expression of Good News for the poor
And Jesus’ sending of the Seventy should give heart to those of us who want to hear what prophets and kings have desired to hear, those of us who want to experience firsthand a taste of the banquet that will be celebrated when “the scripture is fulfilled in our hearing.”
Pope John the 23rd through the 2nd Vatican Council has reminded us of the words of Moses, “would that all God’s people were prophets”. And all of us who are God’s people should pay attention, because this concerns us all. When Jesus sent out those disciples, it was all God’s people. It’s you and me, and everyone who will hear the call, as the workers are few indeed compared to the abundance of the harvest.
And the disciples returned overjoyed at their success, at the healing, the devils they cast out, the transformations that they had seen happen by their hands in Jesus’ Name.
Luke begins the story of Jesus’ public ministry with Jesus’ ‘mission statement,’ delivered to his hometown synagogue in Nazareth: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
An ambitious mission statement, Christ’s mission on earth. And we are the Body of Christ. Christ’s mission is the mission we are called to engage in, if we are in Christ. So I tell you: Put this on your bathroom mirror to see when you brush your teeth at night and in the morning. Stick it on a post-it on your car’s dashboard. Put it in your purse or wallet to see whenever you pull out a credit card or some cash. Because you are a member of the Body of Christ, and Christ’s mission statement is for you.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon you, because God has anointed YOU to bring Good News to the poor. And nothing is impossible with God’s Spirit. (Sarah Dylan Breuer ©Dylan’s lectionary blog)