9: The Mercy of Freedom

[Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

"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 and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, "Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:16-21)

St. Luke gives us a powerful Gospel in the passage above. Jesus has returned to his home town and has taken up the role of reading the Scriptures in the synagogue where all his friends and neighbors were gathered. As he unrolled the scroll of the Great and Holy Prophet Isaiah, he finds the passage that was sure to make them wonder at what he was saying.

The passage quoted by Jesus refers to the restoration of the Kingdom of God, which is to take place at the time when God’s salvation has arrived. What Jesus is saying is that the time for waiting for the Savior is over. He is the Anointed One, the Messiah who is establishing the Kingdom of God now. His mission and his ministry will prove the point as he goes forth among the people preaching, teaching, healing and forgiving sins.

Jesus will show us the fruits of the Kingdom of God once the activity of salvation is finished at the end of time. What we need to understand, however, is that we are not simply waiting for this event to occur. It is occurring now, even in our own time!

Jesus has come to liberate us from the effects of fallen human nature. He comes to repair the damage done to bodies, minds and souls in order to prepare us for eternal life with the Blessed Trinity. We are freed from the bondage of sin, of useless suffering and from the dungeon of hopelessness and despair through the forgiveness and healing that comes through the ministry of Christ which is carried on through the ministry of the Church he founded.

Jesus comes to remove the chains of slavery to sin, to hopelessness, to despair. The graces we receive are his actions in the world today that strengthen us, confirm us in our dignity as children of God and assist us in the healing of body mind and soul! But this free and priceless gift comes with a responsibility, for freedom cannot operate in a vacuum. We then have the responsibility to act, to forgive, to heal, to help in the re-creation of the intimate communion of God with his creation. We are called, in short, to exercise the mercy we have been shown and thus to continue to witness to the gift of healing and the establishment of the Kingdom which is even now in the process of moving toward its final fulfillment in Christ.