Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit
Franciscans of Canada - Franciscains du Canada
Ordo Fratrum Minorum
Near the beginning of the gospel of Luke just as Jesus begins his ministry, Luke has Jesus in the temple in his hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4:14-21). Jesus is going to church on the Sabbath like a good Jewish boy (adult). It is here that he reads from the prophet Isaiah and really lays out his mission. He declares this as his purpose, uses it as his mission statement, says this is what I’m passionate about and how I will live.
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
Now that is quite that statement. That is a very clear way of expressing God’s love and mercy and God’s desire to dwell among us. Jesus would live this out with every ounce of his fiber and soul. He would give his all to make known good news; bring dignity to the poor; show forth God’s abundant freedom; unbind those chained down because of stigma, situation or oppression; he would share God’s loving touch through healings; those who had trapped themselves lies, sins or had allowed society to dismiss he would give them a fresh start and his whole life would usher in God’s favor of a lifetime that would see each year as a year of favor.
Too often we leave this mission statement – this life mission of Jesus with him some 2000 years ago. However, Jesus continues to live out this mission statement still today and invites us his followers to make this our mission statement as well. I know each time I read this piece of scripture I feel pulled up next to Christ and renew my living as a follower. I am reminded to make known the truth in this rallying call; this way of life. The only reason why this can be is because I know how Jesus has infused my life because I trust that his Spirit is upon me; the way his Spirit is upon each of us.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me – guiding me in my ‘yes’ of daily living rooted in Christ; calling me to be a vessel – a container which allows his Spirit to live and move and be; opening me up to go deeper, to trust, to be renewed and strengthened so as to live out my baptismal promises.
Anointed me to bring good news to the poor – in my poverty, in my needs, in my total dependence on God I am cracked open to share how this Good News continually awakens me to freedom in Christ and the fullness of life. My poverty is not about lacking things, my poverty is about surrendering to God for God’s will to be done in my life so I can give my all.
Proclaim release to the captives – when pondering my life, I see how many times I have been held captive by false dreams, lies, worldly promises and empty desires. When I let these go, I am truly set free as I am not held captive by the creating of false expectations rather I released into God and the chains fall off.
Recovery of sight to the blind – blinded by the illusions and lures of the world has at times left me lost and spiraling downward instead of being wrapped up in light. It is in connecting with Christ on a daily basis that I see with new eyes. The scales fall from my eyes and I see truth, faith, hope and love. It is amazing how the words of another can break through the blindness we often live our lives by.
Let the oppressed go free – I have not known oppression like some of our brothers and sisters have around the world but I have worked myself into the oppression of my own harsh criticism and stripped myself (and sadly at times others) the true dignity which is mine and theirs. I am learning that it is only in surrendering to God that the burden of oppression can be lifted and the dance of freedom can begin.
Proclaim a year of the Lord’s favor – the gift of life. God delighting in creation, in the gifts of his children and the lifetime of being favored. Last year, this year, each year is a year of the Lord’s favor because our God dwells with us.
I am in awe once again as Jesus hands me the scroll and says to me, “read this… because you live in me and I in you… together we are fulfilling these truths.”
I read it… I let the words sink in a more… I squirm a bit when I see my short comings… yet I look up and look into the compassionate eyes of Christ and I am reassured… I know I can’t do this on my own, it depend upon you my brothers and sisters on the journey and I continue to surrender to God, walk in tune with Christ and invite the Holy Spirit to dwell in me.
How passionate are you about your life? Your living? Your being in Christ?
Can you identify where the Spirit has been and continues to be upon you?
Can you hear the good news in your life and realize where you share it your daily living?
Can you see where you have been released from your burdens and how you have brought Christ to those who are held captive?
Can you recall those moments when you have seen with fresh eyes and have encountered the eyes of Christ?
Can you rejoice in the freedom that comes in letting go into God and the freedom to surrender your all to God?
Can you proclaim this year, this week, this day as a year of favor because God delights over you and rejoices over you as a gift and as one of his children?
These are the questions I ask myself and hope sets in for, yes, the Lord’s words are indeed spirit and life (Psalm 19). May they penetrate this day and each of the days ahead.
Can you also read the scroll with me?