by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The Narrative Lectionary readings for Sunday, January 13, 2013:
optional reading: Psalm 146 or 146:7b-8
Today we see Jesus beginning his career by reading from Isaiah 61, the text that we had as our primary reading a month ago. This text from Isaiah tells us what the people of God should be doing. If God had a business plan, we could find it here. If God had a mission statement, we could use one of these verses.
The verbs should not be a surprise to the faithful: bring, proclaim, grant, give. The populations that concern God should be familiar too: the afflicted, the captives, the mourners.
Here, in this chapter that Jesus reads, once again we hear God's promise: repair, resurrection, and new life.
So far, so good. But then Jesus goes further and reminds the people that God's promise extends to more than God's chosen people. This message infuriates, and the people rise up against him. It won't be the last time.
We might say this is an inasupicious beginning for the Messiah, but it sets the stage for the ministry of Jesus. God incarnate isn't going to spend time courting favor with the rulers of the land. The focus of Christ's ministry will be the poorest of the poor, the outcast amongst the outcast: the bleeding women, the sick, the tax collectors, and the prostitutes.
Jesus won't announce his presence with a show of weapons and firepower, no matter how much people would prefer that kind of Messiah. Again and again, Jesus will remind us of the true power of the Good News, the liberation of the oppressed.
Think of all the ways you've been feeling oppressed. Think of all the prisons from which you've yearned to be free. Jesus invites us to liberation.
Jesus will also be inviting us to liberate others. There are so many facets of society which conspire to hold us all in chains. How can we be part of the Jubilee time that Jesus proclaims?