The First Reading tells us: For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. If we love God, we will conquer the world through our faith! How can faith conquer the world? Jesus shows this to us in the Gospel today. He began teaching in the synagogues and when he came to Nazareth, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was his custom. He read from the book of Isaiah that says: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sign to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. And when he was done reading, he began to say to them Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.
Even as they were hearing it, Scripture is fulfilled. This is happening, even in our time: when Scripture is proclaimed, it is being fulfilled. God wants to heal us. God wants to make us whole. He wants to set us free and now is the time of his favor. The healing he speaks of is not necessarily physical healing. While Jesus can heal us physically, he is more concerned about of eternal healing and salvation. We see this when he healed the man born blind in John 9. At the end of the chapter, after the Temple leaders threw the man out of the Temple, Jesus said: For judgment I am come into this world; that they who see not may see; and they who see may become blind. Some Pharisees who were with him, heard, and they said unto him: Are we also blind? Jesus said to them: If you were blind, you should not have sin: but now you say: We see. Your sin remains. The Pharisees were not physically blind, but still they cannot see their sins and would not repent.
In the passage Jesus read, he was speaking beyond what was physical. The poor are not those who are materially poor, but those who have nothing to boast before God. These hear the good news. The captives are not only those in prison, but those who realize they have no where to go, who are trapped in sin and want to be released from sin. The blind are those who realize they do not see God and want to see him. The oppressed are those who realize they have no power to conquer sin. These are those for whom the year of the Lord’s favor is given.
St Andre Bessette is one such person. He was not educated nor was he physically healthy. Which is why he was given the task to open doors for visitors to his congregation’s house. Yet, despite his weaknesses, he was very devoted to St Joseph. St Andre went on to build the largest shrine to St Joseph in the world. He shows that true greatness is not in intelligence nor in physical strength, but in simple trust and faith in Jesus, and in the case of St Andre, through St Joseph.
As we start the new year, many had been affected by the pandemic. Many have lost their livelihood and are suffering because of the lockdown. Some are in situations that seem to have no escape. Some cannot even see the end of the tunnel, there seems to be no hope. Others are burdened by their condition. If you are one of these people, Jesus is telling you, Scripture is being fulfilled even now. Jesus has come to give you the kingdom of heaven. He has come to release you from your fears. He has come to open your eyes, so you can see him and he tells you to come to him if you are overburdened and find rest in him. Trust in Jesus. Turn to Jesus. Come to Jesus.
Lord, I have no where to go but to you. Help me. Save me. I repent of my sins. I want to come to you but do not know how. Open my eyes and reveal to me your will. Show me how to draw closer to you. St Andre, pray that I may have that simple trust in St Joseph.