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Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C

Luke 4:14-21 - link to NRSV text

These days, it seems that we churchy people are really into mission statements; I know a number of judicatories (dioceses and the like) in a number of denominations in which congregations are more or less required to come up with them. In this coming Sunday's gospel, Jesus offers his own, in a quote from Isaiah.

Actually, Jesus is offering not a straightforward block quote from Isaiah, but a mix between two passages, substituting a clause from Isaiah 42 for a clause he finds objectionable from Isaiah 61, which is the chapter from which the brunt of Jesus' mission statement comes.  But Isaiah 61:2 proclaims "the day of vengeance of our God."  Jesus cuts that part, and to preserve the parallelisms of the passage, instead brings in a clause from Isaiah 42:7, "the recovery of sight to the blind." Jesus rejects John the Baptizer's contention that the coming one was coming to bring vengeance, to shovel the chaff into the fire (what I talked about in my January 5th entry for the First Sunday of Epiphany), to proclaim more of the kinds of things his disciples said characterized Jesus' ministry – the kinds of things we see in summary statements like Acts 10:34-43. Jesus came to heal and reconcile, and he defined righteousness as living into that kind of infinitely forgiving relationship with others, not as dealing out punishment to wrongdoers.

That's not always appealing to us -- small wonder folks in the synagogue were upset by Jesus' reading and midrash in the synagogue in Luke 4. Jesus claims ancient prophesies and says they have been fulfilled in our hearing, but not the prophesies we sometimes find juiciest -- the ones in which our enemies, which in our hubris we are tempted to think of as God's enemies -- get their comeuppance. The bottom line is that the Word which God spoke in Creation is the same word we hear in Jesus' ministry here, and is the same word we hear in the judgment at the climax of history, and that word is "I love you." It's the word of healing, of liberty to captives and of sight to the blind, and the first thing we blind ones will see is that it is a word for everyone. God wants that healing for everyone, and has spoken against vengeance against any of those whom God loves. That's a word of hope for all of us -- there's hope for us yet!

Thanks be to God.

January 19, 2004 in Epiphany, Luke, Year C | Permalink

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Dylan's lectionary blog: Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C

« Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C | Main | Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C »

Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C

Luke 4:14-21 - link to NRSV text

These days, it seems that we churchy people are really into mission statements; I know a number of judicatories (dioceses and the like) in a number of denominations in which congregations are more or less required to come up with them. In this coming Sunday's gospel, Jesus offers his own, in a quote from Isaiah.

Actually, Jesus is offering not a straightforward block quote from Isaiah, but a mix between two passages, substituting a clause from Isaiah 42 for a clause he finds objectionable from Isaiah 61, which is the chapter from which the brunt of Jesus' mission statement comes.  But Isaiah 61:2 proclaims "the day of vengeance of our God."  Jesus cuts that part, and to preserve the parallelisms of the passage, instead brings in a clause from Isaiah 42:7, "the recovery of sight to the blind." Jesus rejects John the Baptizer's contention that the coming one was coming to bring vengeance, to shovel the chaff into the fire (what I talked about in my January 5th entry for the First Sunday of Epiphany), to proclaim more of the kinds of things his disciples said characterized Jesus' ministry – the kinds of things we see in summary statements like Acts 10:34-43. Jesus came to heal and reconcile, and he defined righteousness as living into that kind of infinitely forgiving relationship with others, not as dealing out punishment to wrongdoers.

That's not always appealing to us -- small wonder folks in the synagogue were upset by Jesus' reading and midrash in the synagogue in Luke 4. Jesus claims ancient prophesies and says they have been fulfilled in our hearing, but not the prophesies we sometimes find juiciest -- the ones in which our enemies, which in our hubris we are tempted to think of as God's enemies -- get their comeuppance. The bottom line is that the Word which God spoke in Creation is the same word we hear in Jesus' ministry here, and is the same word we hear in the judgment at the climax of history, and that word is "I love you." It's the word of healing, of liberty to captives and of sight to the blind, and the first thing we blind ones will see is that it is a word for everyone. God wants that healing for everyone, and has spoken against vengeance against any of those whom God loves. That's a word of hope for all of us -- there's hope for us yet!

Thanks be to God.

January 19, 2004 in Epiphany, Luke, Year C | Permalink

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