As we continue in the Church’s Ordinary Time the Gospel this Sunday shows Jesus in the early days of his ministry. He enters the synagogue “at Nazara, “where he had been brought up.” As is the practice at the Sabbath Service in synagogues, members of the congregation read from the scripture scrolls. In this case the text is from the prophet Isaiah. It is a very short passage, as follows:
“The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for He has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the down trodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.”
“The Lord’s year of favour” recalls the Jubilee Year ordained in the Book of Leviticus. Every fifty years the people of Israel were supposed to rest, restore property that had been wrongly taken and forgive debts. The forgiving of debts every fifty years would prevent inter-generational poverty. We can see how Jesus wants to make all things new, to remove the burdens which afflict us. He wants us to be free of the oppression caused by physical illness, bad mental health, imprisonment and restrictions of one sort or another, poverty, injustice, inability to forgive, and guilt. Jesus is ushering in a permanent time of “Favour”. We can live a new way, where we move from a life spoiled by blame, guilt and oppression (whether we are giving or receiving it!) to a life lived consciously in the loving presence of God.
We are certainly not promised a life of ease – we know that we are subject to all kinds of sufferings. However we are enabled to see our lives in the light of Christ and his Gospel and thus to show it to others. Even in January we are experiencing sunny weather and the days are getting longer. In 2022 can we allow Jesus to set us free, count our blessings and thank God for our lives?