Scripture: Lectionary for Monday, Sept. 3. I Corinthians 2:1-5. Psalm 119:97-102. Luke 4:16-30:
Luke is a historian as well as a theologian. He is a literary artist who paints some of the most beautiful scenes from the life of Jesus with his words in his Gospel. We have an illustration of his interest in historical settings by the way he describes the synagogue service that takes place with Jesus being present there in the first century.
It is said that this is the earliest document with such a good description of such a service in a synagogue. The evangelists did their homework.
Jesus was accustomed to go on the Sabbaths and to even at times read the haphtorah or the second reading as is depicted today in the passage from Isaiah. The reading and the interpretation of it by Jesus was customary and we learn much from it through this passage.
Those in the assembly praised God for the first scene. In the second scene they are angry with him because he is showing why they have failed in their response to God’s word whereas the woman and the
Syrian commander did not. They threaten to throw him over a cliff.
Jesus, however, “went straight through their midst and walked away.” A Psalm was said to open the service then the great proclamation of the Shema (“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”) The words in the Hebrew text are capitalized for the word Hear and for One in order to help the reader/listener to pay attention to the content within the sentence framed by Hear and One. Then the Eighteen Benedictions were read, followed by a reading from the Torah and finally the second reading called the Haphtorah. It was this second reading that Jesus read and interpreted. The priestly blessing from Numbers 6:24-27 was given by the president of the synagogue.
We notice that our own liturgy of the word and even the blessing of the bread and wind are taken from the Hebrew ritual. Jesus reads a combined text of Lucan creation taken from Isaiah 61:1-2 and 58:6. Luke as an evangelist is also a theologian! We see his theme of promise and fulfillment in Jesus explanation of Isaiah. This is called a D’rash in Hebrew interpretation which means the text’s context is left aside to bring out a moral. theological, or legal lesson. We can see the spirit of the beatitudes and similarities to the Sermon on the Mount in Jesus’ presentation. The Holy Spirit is working together with Jesus in making this text come alive to the listeners in his day and certainly in ours. Our personal lectio divina or reflection could take place this day on these few lines from Isaiah. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.