Psalm 72: 1-2, 9-10“…Lord, every nation on earth will adore you …”
Luke 4:14 - 22a “…’Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.’…”
St. Andre Bessette (1845 – 1937) Newly canonized by Pope Benedict XVI, Andre was born the eighth of twelve children in a town near Montreal. By the age of twelve, both of his parents had died. He always had a strong devotion to St. Joseph. He held many jobs before turning twenty five and asking to join the Congregation of the Holy Cross, where eventually he was accepted. Through the intercession of St. Joseph, Bro. Andre sought healing for many, many people over the years. He was very sickly early on, but lived a good long life. He was also responsible through much prayer to see the land purchased and an Oratory built on Mount Royal. For more, see the Saints of the Day Website.
There are a couple of lessons in our readings today; one is a subject I think about sometimes myself. It is the basic question about why we/I believe in the Risen Lord? Why do I believe in the Catholic/Christian Faith? Today’s scriptures are one of the many that answers that question for me; and it is found in a single word or phrase, which describes the crowd’s reaction to their encounter with Jesus. In Luke it says they were “amazed” and he was “praised by all”. Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to meet someone who moved you just because of their spirituality. Somehow you knew you were in the presence of holiness. For me it was an encounter as I’ve said before with the late Great Pope John Paul II at the World Youth Day Pilgrimage in Denver 1993. Our young parish student group sat in Cherry Creek Park, packed in like sardines, a great distance off the stage where the Pope was saying Mass. This Mass occurred at the end of several days of meeting and greeting many of the participants from all over the world, as we moved from event to event a lot of it on foot. I never felt such love from complete strangers in my whole life; there was no mistaking that this Man had found favor with God, and God was blessing our pilgrimage. That feeling of awe is how I imagine many of the people who heard Jesus talk back in his day might have been feeling. I don’t think about their credibility, you know they’re just like the everyday people of today, except they knew the earlier scripture prophesies (better than we do). First Jesus read from the Prophet Isaiah and then He said “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) He had just told them “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.” (Luke 4:18-19) The people were said to be amazed. And that describes the way we felt, amazed at our encounter with the Vicar of Christ on that cold night long ago even though he was probably a mile away.
So, today’s first lesson is easy to answer, but the second is a little harder, because a little further down in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says no prophet is accepted in his own native place, and so this encounter speaks of a second lesson, not to get distraught when your own family, or fellow co-workers and friends don’t appreciate that faith. Jesus had the same trouble as did others along the way. Jesus kept moving and spreading the Gospel. People were encountering Truth and Love, and some people just weren’t open to it. The first reading reminds us to love God and brother/sister. “…whoever is begotten by God conquers the world and the victory that conquers the world is our faith.” (1 John 5:4) We are asked to love as he loved, and in this week of Epiphany, might we allow ourselves to imagine the awe of the Magi who encountered the King of the Universe, and think about how far they traveled to have that experience. God Bless.
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