Before beginning to tell about Jesus’ activities, Luke wants to make very clear to his readers what is the passion that drives the Prophet of Galilee and what is the goal of his action. Christians need to know in what direction God’s Spirit pushes Jesus, since following him is precisely walking in the same direction as he did.
Luke describes minutely what Jesus does in the synagogue of his village: he stands up, takes the holy book, looks himself for a passage from Isaiah, reads the text, closes the book, returns it and sits down. Everyone has to listen attentively to the words chosen by Jesus, since they put forth the task for which he feels sent by God.
Surprisingly the text doesn’t speak about organizing a more perfect religion or about implanting a more worthy worship, but about communicating liberation, hope, light and grace for the poorest and most unfortunate. This is what he reads: «The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord». When he finishes, he tells them: «This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening».
God’s Spirit is in Jesus, sending him to the poor, directing his whole life toward those most in need, most oppressed, most humiliated. We his followers need to work in this same direction. This is the orientation that God, incarnate in Jesus, wants to impress on human history. The last should be first in knowing a life that is more worthy, more free, more happy, the life that God want for all God’s sons and daughters from now on.
We must never forget it. The «option for the poor» isn’t something invented by twentieth century theologians, nor is it just something fashionable starting at Vatican II. It is the option of God’s Spirit that breathes through Jesus’ whole life, and that we his followers need to introduce into human history. Paul VI said it: it is a duty of the Church «to help liberation to be born…and make it complete».
It’s not possible to live and announce Jesus Christ if we don’t do it from the defense of the least and in solidarity with those who are excluded. If what we do and proclaim from within the Church of Jesus isn’t understood as something good and liberating by those who most suffer, what Gospel are we preaching? What Jesus are we following? What spirituality are we promoting? To say it clearly: what impression do we have of today’s Church? Are we walking in the same direction as Jesus did?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf