Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
Reading - Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
Today's readings seem to be making us ready for Lent not simply by their length but by the introduction of Jesus in public ministry as well as the Evangelist's own words of introduction of himself. While the first reading draws attention to the early Church and the problems that existed before and after the destruction of the Jewish sacred city, Jerusalem, the gospel reading truly is a gem for our reflection and prayer. Indeed this reading in its own way is laying the foundation for us to come to realize perhaps as never before how Jesus lived prior to the days of his passion and death.Luke's presentation of himself in the first four verses and the presentation of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry in Galilee. There he will teach/introduce the meaning of the Kingdom of God. There are a number of people who are attracted to the presentations by this Evangelist. They are people, some of significant wealth, and others ordinary people who find themselves concerned about about where there faith is going and what has happened to the promises of Yahweh and some of the "isms" challenging the Jesus teachings. The technical name for this stance is theodicy. My built-in computer dictionary defines theodicy as follows: "the branch of theology that defends God's goodness in the face of the existence of evil." It exists, I suggest, even in our world today. Many have asked themselves and others "How can a good God allow that 20 six year old children be slaughtered along with teachers and administrators?" The people listening to Luke were asking about the future and the seeming failure of Yahweh to keep his promises to their ancestors who suffered the destruction of Jerusalem.Beginning his ministry Jesus returns to the temple where he was known. He will inaugurate his teaching about the meaning of the Kingdom. It is important to take note of these words in the gospel: Jesus says "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me." He is affirming to those present that he is no ordinary teacher. He speaks with the power of the Holy Spirit. We must remember that Luke always likes to present Jesus as the teacher, a respected position in the Jewish communities. Luke uses this position to strengthen Jesus' fulfilling God's promises.Likewise it is also important to take note of Jesus' final words. "Today," he say, "this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." The word "today" is to be understood as a each day in the future. It is not just the one day that Jesus is in the temple, reading from the sacred writings.As you read these gospel verses from St. Luke, understand them as words inviting you and me to always be mindful of what Jesus' mission is meant to be. He will speak to us with the power of the Holy Spirit; he is the teacher who comes to present us with the fact that God is always faithful to his promises. Each day we live in the reality of the Father's kingdom. We live embraced by his love for us. We are the top of his concerns-for- today list.As we begin the countdown to Lent, this Lucan text is truly an invitation to come to know this Son of God, this man Jesus, perhaps as never before -- truly the invitation to a more powerful Lent in our lives.