Corpus Christi Blog

Jesus revealing Himself and us letting Him be God

01-27-2019HomiliesFr. Chad King

My brothers and sisters remember that in last week’s Gospel we heard the miracle of Jesus changing water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana, which was Jesus’ first action of many that revealed him to have God-like powers. In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus unambiguously verbally declare Himself, for the first time, to be the Messiah, the Anointed One with the Spirit of God. So today is what I like to call the Mic-drop Gospel. For those of you who are, say under 25 years old, a mic-drop is when someone says something so amazing, so shocking, that it leaves everyone else speechless. In which no one can, or dares try to, say anything to counter or top what was just said, it’s that striking. For the audience in that synagogue, I imagine it took several minutes for everyone to pick up their jaws from the floor and even begin to process what Jesus just said, let alone think about what the ramifications of what he said are. Even though our Gospel today stops there, leaving us and everyone gathered to process what Jesus said, next week’s Gospel will pick up right where this left off. So, for those who don’t like cliff-hangers and can’t wait for next week to hear what the people thought and what the ramifications were of what Jesus said, go ahead, I give you permission, class, to read ahead. No really, go ahead, I encourage you, as is good to do every week, to read ahead and reflect for yourself in preparation for next Sunday. But for today, let me unpack the amazing words Jesus said, so that we too can be astonished, and begin to process what they mean for us.

First though, we heard Luke’s prologue, which is the opening statements about why Luke is writing his version of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Luke, the historian, who interviewed and investigated the eye-witnesses who saw and heard Jesus directly, gives credibility to his writing. This is not a book of fiction, though some want to think of it as such. Nor is it a book of theology, even though it is good to theologize from to come to know and believe in who God is. But for Luke’s purposes, as an historian, Luke simply wants to write an accurate account of what Jesus said and did, so that the truth could be passed on and taught accurately. And so, for us, we can’t reason away what Jesus said and did.

Then, skipping ahead four chapters in Luke’s Gospel, we hear Jesus goes to Nazareth, to where he grew up as a boy, and went into the synagogue as was his custom. Luke tells us that word had spread about Jesus, and apparently also had a scholarly reputation among the Rabbi’s and Pharisees because they handed him a scroll, the one of the prophet Isaiah, for him to teach and preach from. But they could not have even imagined what Jesus would say, and particularly how their view of Jesus would have changed so quickly.

Jesus found the passage from the Prophet Isaiah, in our Bibles Isaiah 61:1-2, where it said: “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, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord”. What Isaiah is prophesying is that there will be a future person- known as the Messiah- who is Anointed from the Spirit of the Lord and who will do all these great and amazing things for the poor, captive, oppressed, and blind. Therefore, we can probably understand, in general, what liberty to captives, sight to the blind, and freedom for the oppressed mean, but might not know what is meant by ‘announcing a year acceptable to the Lord’. For the Jews hearing this message of what the future Messiah will do for the captives and oppressed is exciting, but perhaps the most amazing is that the Messiah will proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord, once and for all. What ‘a year acceptable to the Lord’ meant was a Jubilee year. The Jews would have known and longed for a Jubilee year, such as God prescribed in Leviticus 25. God announced that every 50th year will be a Jubilee year, and in that year all debts are forgiven, all slaves are set free, and any land that has been appropriated, that used to belong to a family but they lost it through debt, will be returned to the original owners. So, for us, just imagine if you lived in a Jubilee year and suddenly all your student debt, or all your house debt, or all your car debt, and all your credit card debt, whatever debt that you might have that’s weighing over your head, imagine if it was all gone, just like that, in the Jubilee year. Now that would be a very acceptable year, right? I’m sorry to say, but we don’t have Jubilee years anymore in which monetarily and physical debt is forgiven, and everything lost is returned to the original owner. Even though most of us would love for that to happen for us, instead, we have something even better! You see, we don’t have to wait and long for another Jubilee year to be set free, for the Messiah has come to us. In our Gospel, Jesus is declaring Himself to be the longed-for Messiah, the Anointed One who wants to set us free, once and for all. God has come, the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God, has come to us. God who knows us, loves us, wants the best for us, and in which nothing is beyond Him, has come to us. And God wants to do mighty things in and for us. However, for us, most likely, God doesn’t have in mind a physical debt which will be forgiven, but more importantly a freedom from an emotional or spiritual reality. Do you know God’s presence in everything- in every hardship, every anxiety, every reality of your life? Do you know and have that kind of freedom that I’m talking about? The freedom that Jesus wants to give cannot be taken away from us- and so we have to wait for another Jubilee year to get it back. And even though we can lose it by our lack of faith, trust, and surrender to God, it can easily be found again through true repentance. My brothers and sisters, we are all lost, held captive, blind, and oppressed in so many ways and by so many things in our world today, and money is just one of them. We have so many concerns that tie us up inside and can keep us physically, emotionally, and spiritually down. However, the good news that Jesus brings, the freedom Jesus gives, might not be monetarily, but it can be just as real and practical. Indeed, it is the interior freedom and unbounded spiritual joy which gives proper perspective to our monetarily and practical earthly concerns. But for us to receive that freedom which our hearts truly long for, for us to have that kind of freedom, we need to believe in our Gospel today. We need to have faith that Jesus is who he declares himself to be- the Messiah who will bring us true freedom that lasts forever. Jesus is the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God. So, if you are tied up with all your earthly concerns and do not know the freedom and joy of which I am speaking, invite Jesus into your life and surrender those concerns into His loving and providential hands, and ask Him to be Lord of them all. Ask that the Spirit be breathed into them to loosen the grip they have on you. Ask Our Lady, Un-doer of Knots, to grab hold of all the knots that tie you up inside, and to undo all of them in you according to the will of God. But when it comes to what God does, we can have a desire of what and how we want things to work out, but we should not have the expectation. For when we expect God to work in a certain way, we can so easily miss how He is truly working in our lives. Therefore, that freedom and uninhibited joy can be ours, but it is not something that we do or make- rather that freedom and joy only comes when we truly surrender our lives and trust He has them. When we let go and let God, and let Him be who He declared Himself to be, Lord of every aspect of our lives, each and every day.

Let me conclude with a paragraph from a book I am praying through- it is a journal of prayer- a journal of our Lord’s heart speaking to this priest’s heart- indeed, to mine, and all of our hearts. Before I read this, I ask you to call to mind all the situations, worries, and things that hold you captive that you want to be free of, if you wish- open your hands upon your lap as a symbolic act of surrender, and now listen to Jesus speak to your heart: “Trust Me with all the events of your life. I will not abandon you. You are Mine and I will not forsake you. The decisions of men are all in My hands. Nothing will befall you that I do not permit. I will give you My grace to accept the changing circumstances of your life. It is I who am behind all that happens to you. Nothing escapes My wisdom; nothing escapes My love; nothing escapes My omnipotence. Trust Me, and be at peace. I bless you with all the love of My Sacred Heart. Do not be afraid. Tell Me again and again that you trust in My merciful love for you”.