Lk 4:16-30 He Passed Through the Midst of Them
Jesus went back to his hometown and entered the synagogue. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage from the prophet Isaiah where it is written:
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He sent me to proclaim liberty (release) from the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
The words of the prophet Isaiah take up the language of the Book of Leviticus regarding the jubilee year. A jubilee was celebrated every 50 years in Israel. It marked the cancellation of all debts and mandated that property and slaves be returned to their original family owners. Isaiah foresees this jubilee celebration into the future when God will come to release Israel from its slavery (idols) and debt (guilt). The Lord follows Isaiah’s spirit when he announces the greatest liberation of all: from sin. The word “release” means “forgiveness.”
On March 18th, 2007 Pope Benedict visited the Roman juvenile detention center Casal del Marmo. He celebrated Mass with the youth and afterwards met with them in the center’s gymnasium. At the beginning of the audience, the director of the center told the Pope: “Since we learned that you would come, something extraordinary has happened: Smiles have invaded the detention center. Everyone laughs; everyone works. They were all asking me, “What can I do for the Pope?” One young man spoke on behalf of all the detainees: “Dear Holy Father, your visit has brought us a lot of joy. When we learned that you would come, we were all in shock. We couldn’t imagine that someone as important as you would come to visit us. We are sorry for having made so many mistakes. You are a role model and our greatest desire right now is for your blessing.” (Zenit, March 18th, 2007)
The two greatest blessings the Lord gives to man are his love (his presence) and his forgiveness. With Christ’s incarnation, the Lord inaugurates a new year, a new beginning. Now is an acceptable time to return to the Lord. Now is a time to ask for forgiveness. The Lord is present in our midst. We cannot kill him, nor can we detain him. “They led him to the brow of the hill, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.” We are truly like mischievous children who do not wish to be taken by the hand and led. We prefer to lead God. Where? To the edge of the cliff to get rid of him. Do I believe that I can be happy without the Lord? That as soon as I can get rid of him, I will be free at last? Of course not! Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this meditation. And yet, reality is honesty. When we sin, we push Christ over the cliff!
Do I realize that happiness is the union between two realities: My duties and my freedom. My duties tell me what I should do. My freedom speaks to me about the things I want. When the two voices are one, when what I should do is the same as what I want, then there is true happiness. “Lord, I love your commands.” (Ps 119:97)