Everyday we hear stories about lives being changed. There are people whose lives were changed with the birth of a child. Joseph and Mary had that same experience with Jesus. Then, there are people whose lives were changed when they got married. Marriage altered their individual “I do” to a collective “We do.” Then, there are those whose lives were changed when someone they loved died. Death carves a cavern in our hearts that no time can fill. Memories that once were shared are the only comforts for wounds to heal.
When Jesus stood before the crowd in the land where he grew up, it was a life-changing moment. Reading the words of Isaiah the prophet, Jesus reminded them and us that his message is a constant reminder of birth, marriage and death.
Proclaiming a year of favor for the Lord, the last sentence from the scroll, is an invitation to a new life. If we only add our blessings in life, our counting, our calculation would be unending. Isn’t that what heaven is all about—blessings and favors from God forever?
Christ’s message is not a pie-in-the-sky, pollyannish attitude, but a realistic opportunity to share the same blessings we have. If God favors us with a lot of blessings, why can’t we do the same for those who are lacking? If God is patiently and silently affirming us in the midst of our trials and problems, why don’t we do the same to those who are impoverished by the bad news, imprisoned by their own miseries and blinded by their own selfishness?
It was a life changing moment for the crowds that day. Before them was a local boy saying that the prophecies of old were fulfilled in him. They were faced with a decision whether to believe or not, to do what he said or not, to commit themselves to his message or not.
Isn’t this what life and living is all about? Isn’t life a daily decision to follow what is good and not what is evil, to obey God and not the devil? Isn’t this what every man and woman faces everyday—the fundamental moral option--to do good and avoid evil?
It was a life-changing moment for Jesus. Many prophets before him have read the same passage. It was only at this moment that somebody said about its fulfillment. He is the fulfillment.
Now comes the hard part for those who listened. Those who are poor need to know that not everything is bad news. They need to hear the better news. Those who are imprisoned need to be freed from the shackles and chains of sin. They need to acknowledge and recognize the openness and freedom of grace. Those who were blinded by obstructions caused by hatred, prejudice and selfishness need to clear their eyes with the Christian message of faith, hope and love.
What is it for us then? The key word that Jesus said after reading the passage from Isaiah is the word “Today.” Today, every day of our lives, is supposed to be a fulfillment of what we heard. Today is a reason to change for the better and orient ourselves to The Good News. Today may be and is a life-changing moment.
Everyday we hear stories about lives being changed—birth of a child, marriage and family, death. Add one more story to that and it is the story of Jesus. He changed the world with the way he died and the way he lived. May he change us that forever we may live.
27 January 2013