Speaking prophetic words doesn’t insure popularity. Jesus was often rejected when he preached the gospel of good news. He cites the text of the prophet Isaiah to tell his friends in Nazareth, people he has known all his life, about his call to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, freedom to the oppressed, and sight to the blind.
This scripture is fulfilled in your hearing, Jesus says. This news takes the people of Nazareth by surprise. Here is Jesus, the carpenter’s son, claiming to be the bearer of a radical gospel message, the kind that will be preached by Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. Jesus goes on to state that this prophetic teaching is not only for Jews but for the Jews’ hated enemies, the Gentiles. A message of God’s inclusive love inspires the rage of the townsfolk as they drive Jesus out of the town; he narrowly escapes death.
Now we face the questions: How will we respond to God’s inclusive message of love? How do we respond to prophetic teaching? Do we hear the prophets of our own time?
The good news Jesus proclaimed for the poor and the oppressed is not high on the priority list for many Christians. So engaging in prophetic ministry is as difficult a task now as it was for Jesus in Nazareth. People don’t want to hear the good news if it makes them uncomfortable.
Luke’s Gospel calls us to see God’s intention for justice and peace as an integral part of God’s love for humanity and our love for one another.
God, help me hear your prophetic words and be mindful of the biblical call to bring good news to the poor and let the oppressed go free. Amen.