January 10, 2019
by Rev. Richard Gabuzda
Creighton University's Institute for Priestly Formations
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday after Epiphany
Lectionary: 215

1 John 4:19-5:4
Psalms 72:1-2, 14 and 15bc, 17
Luke 4:14-22

Celebrating Christmas

Strengthened for the Mission

Today’s gospel passage from Luke portrays Jesus stepping out into his mission, his public life, defining that mission by way of the words from Isaiah.  All the events that follow, all his preaching, his miracles and his eventual passion, death and resurrection, represent a living out of what he proclaims in the synagogue this day.

However, it is not possible to understand this event, as Luke expresses it, without recalling two prior events:  Jesus’ Baptism and his Temptation in the desert.  At the Baptism, Jesus’ true and deepest identity is revealed by his Father:  “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”  With this declaration resounding in his heart, Jesus then confronts the Tempter who will try in vain to make Jesus forget or deny this particular vocation to be the Beloved Son.  Only when he has fended off the Evil One’s attacks, can he make his synagogue pronouncement, moving out into his mission.  Those words first heard at his Baptism will continue to resound in his heart throughout his public life, reminding him of who he is.  Even as he dies on the cross, in the face of the jeering and mocking crowd, Jesus hands himself over to death with the words, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” He remains always the Beloved Son.

All of us have a mission in life, no matter what our particular vocation.  Sometimes we are more aware of its particularities than at other times.  Whatever this mission may be, it cannot be discovered unless we first discover our identity in God.  Knowing ourselves as Beloved Sons and Daughters provides the key, the place from which our mission flows.

The remaining days of the Christmas season provide an opportunity to receive more deeply the Good News that in Jesus we have become adopted daughters and sons.  To the extent that we “remain” there, we can be assured that the mission to which we are called will bear much fruit. 

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