Luke 1:1-4; 1:14-21
We have all laboured in working out a project : a community project, a mission plan; our politicians labour to produce a government plan; families work out a project that will cover the paying of a mortgage, the needs of the children, perhaps a holiday. We find that the drawing up of our plan has a tedious, thorny aspect to it, and happily we also find that it has its lightsome, inspirational moments.
Luke, prior to writing about Jesus’ mission plan says that he is setting down the events in an orderly manner. His account is ordered in a certain context – the context of God’s faithfulness in fulfilling the promises he made of old.
In Luke’s gospel for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus’ mission plan is bold and inspirational. He quotes from Isaiah. He declares that the Spirit is upon him, that he is the Messiah, he will bring good news to the poor, liberty to captives, sight to the blind, release to the downtrodden, and the favourable year of the Lord.
In Mary, through the creative Spirit the Word became flesh; the same Spirit descended on Jesus at Baptism, he returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. The words from Isaiah quoted by Jesus were fulfilled in him, they were fleshed out in multiple ways – we learn of him restoring sight to the blind, associating himself with sinners, eating with outcasts touching and healing the sick, feeding the hungry. Moreover, Jesus’ ministry brought about an inward change in people, as in the case of Zacchaeus. I think Jesus’ words, imbued with the Spirit struck deep into the hearts of many, transforming them inwardly until finally at Pentecost, the promised Spirit descended so strongly on a group of them that their words ran like wildfire to the ends of the earth.
Recently, I heard a preacher speak about Jesus’ project, he chose one word to describe it, the word ‘hospitality’. Jesus announced his mission in the synagogue and within the synagogue service. He remained open to Jewish tradition and at the same time, his heart gave hospitality to all kinds of people. His hospitality was truly holistic.
The prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled in us personally as we open our hearts to those we live with, to new ideas and ways of seeing things. This scripture is fleshed out in us when we give a hand where it is needed, when we support asylum seekers, when we try to understand what seems beyond us. Jesus project, his core hospitality is being fleshed out when we take a stand on justice issues. As we take a little step or a big step to provide a home for the homeless our hearts are happily beating with the great, hospitable heart of God.
Sr. Kathleen Egan OP