Sunday, September 02, 2012



September 3, 2012
Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, pope and doctor of the church

I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.  1 Corinthians 2:3-5

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.  Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.  He said to them, "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."  Luke 4:18-21


Father, all the lessons in all the schools in all the world cannot make us wiser than we can be studying your Word.  Jesus, teach us these lessons in our daily study of Sacred Scripture so that we might have a strong relationship with you and the Father as we approach our work in the world.  Holy Spirit, come upon us and help us to earn the promise of the Father.  Amen.


The people listening to Jesus in the temple today went from amazement to fury in a matter of seconds -- or sentences.  He started out preaching to them from the familiar passages they all knew from the prophet Isaiah.
Yet it was not what he said, but perhaps more what he did not say -- what he intentionally omitted -- that from the very outset of his public ministry began to turn some people away from him.
The classic passage from Isaiah also includes a very human characteristic -- in addition to the social justice message relayed in today's message, the people of Israel also sought comfort in the conclusion of Isaiah's message -- that the Spirit of the Lord also would bring them a day of vindication by God that could turn their mourning into gladness. 
Jesus left out this message of personal and societal vindication for the wrongs inflicted by their enemies.  Instead, his manifesto was a manifesto of love and service to others that would reveal the pathway to union with the spirit of the Lord. 
The public ministry phase of Jesus' adult life was marked by this union with the Spirit from this point in Luke's fourth chapter when Jesus endures his test in the desert thanks to the strength he got from being filled with the Spirit.  He brought that same spirit with him to the temple and all his encounters in this Gospel. 
Luke often portrays Jesus as curing and healing those who were possessed by evil spirits.   
That same Spirit bolstered Jesus until the very end when hanging on the cross, "Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit'; and when he had said this he breathed his last."  Luke 23:46.  It was only then that the Spirit of the Lord was no longer upon Him.


This spirit is the essence of the gifts from God that prepared His disciples (and us) for the work we are expected to accomplish in the world.  The spirit is there to bolster our prayer life as well.  This is the promise of the Father that Jesus delivers to us as he blesses us and confirms us in our mission. 
What evils of the world do you need to expel from your life in order to make room to fulfill your Fairfax manifesto, or Arlington manifesto, or Prince William manifesto?

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