Dear Followers of Jesus,
We read Luke 4:21-30 in today’s liturgy. This text is a continuation from last Sunday. It invites us into the place where Jesus is establishing his spiritual authority. It took more than just words for him to demonstrate to his people that he was truly from the Father. Luke places him in the synagogue reading from the scriptures.
This text points out that, “all who heard Jesus were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” This sentence is worth much reflection. Already, Jesus possesses in his body, in his rich voice, the authority of the Father’s love for the world. He was part of the Trinity that revealed his relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit at his baptism.
Here, Jesus feels grounded in the love that will compel him to service, to healing the sick, and to opening people’s hearts. Here, his feet are planted firmly on the ground of tradition, on the earth, on the shoulders of the prophets before him. Here, he will enter the mystery of the people around him, the blind, the lame, the weak, the hopeless. Here, he is steeped in the scriptures, readied for what will come, even death on a cross.
In the opening weeks in Ordinary Time, each of the gospels tells us of the stories that open the door to the rich authority he has in the past that opens new paths for the future. It is the same in our era. Jesus establishes his authority from the Incarnation by healing our souls, calling us deeper in the richness of his mercy, and allowing us to view the hope for other people’s lives. It is important for us to realize that when we gather at Eucharist, we are not there to get what we want. We gather and pray so that the authority of God is realized within us, that God’s activity is stimulated in our empty hearts, in our prayers for people in need and our vision of how life could be in God. Our hearts bear the mystery of his authority when we get out of our own way and surrender our pride and our ego to his holy and rich name.
When prayer opens us to the mystery of Christ, we then are amazed like those who first heard him. If we pray only to get something for ourselves, we will be disappointed. Prayer is not a commodity. It is not something that we check off our spiritual list to get to heaven. Prayer is not about our authority, our initiative or our doing; it is only God’s grace within us. Prayer is not something we do, but something that is opened in us by God. Our lives in God are simply amazing if we can get out of our own way, out of the way of our control and authority.
We also hear a text from 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 in this week’s liturgy. This text explains the mystery of love. It is also a blueprint for prayer: Love is patient and kind, not inflated or pompous. It bears all things. It endures all things. This sacred scripture helps explain the mystery of Jesus’ presence in our lives and a call to deep prayer. Love is the reason for our prayer, not obligation. Love is the purpose of our surrender to God, not our earthly need. Love is the reason for Jesus’ authority in our lives. In love, we stand among our ancestors who were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor