January 23, 2022
Susan Quaintance OSB, St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL
Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Cor 12:12-30 or 12:12-14, 27; Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21
Last week the gospel acclamation was another piece of scripture used to interpret or “unlock” the readings given for the Sunday. Today we have words taken straight from today’s gospel, Luke 4:18: “The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, and proclaim liberty to captives.”
Luke constructs this verse in an interesting way as he paints the picture of Jesus returning to Galilee, after his forty days in the desert, and inaugurating his ministry in his hometown. Jesus opens the scroll to the prophecy of Isaiah in order to read the weekly Haftarah (the selection from the prophets in a weekly synagogue service) portion. What Luke puts in Jesus’s mouth, though, isn’t exactly what I find when I go to Isaiah. It’s Isaiah 61:1-4 woven together with 58:6, but with some omissions. What’s left out? That which might limit the focus of salvation or tempt the hearer to spiritualize what could be hard to hear. Luke is clear about those for whom Jesus has been sent: the poor, the captive, the oppressed.
What might this tell me how I can make 2022 “a year acceptable to the Lord”? A good place to start is by thinking about how I put limits on redemption, how I “hear” God’s words in ways that allow me to keep doing what I have always done and stay comfortably where I feel safest and most secure. Is that where the poor and oppressed are? Probably not. This verse points out that if Jesus was sent to bring glad tidings to the poor, then I am, too. If Jesus was to proclaim liberty to captives, I better be about that, as well. Are the poor and captives in my line of vision? No? Then I better stand in a different place. The gospel of Luke consistently shines a light toward the margins so that the outcast and forgotten are clearly seen. I’d best look.
May I expand my vision to include everyone instead of only seeing those whom I love and feel kin to. May my glad tidings be sung to all, and my attention given to those who need it most.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Sister Susan Quaintance, OSB, is a member of St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL. She has served her community in several positions, including formation director, secretary, and liturgy committee member. She is currently Director of Client Services at Comfort Keepers, an in-home caregiving company.