Over the last few years, we’ve learned much about the power of words. When spoken aloud, they can heal or destroy, calm or incite, unite or divide. We have begun to understand as well that not only the word itself but also who speaks it—and to whom—matters. Complaints of personal oppression fall flat coming from the mouths of the privileged, while motivational speeches to make better choices often dispirit those with limited good options.
In this Gospel passage from Luke, we witness Jesus’s first public act of ministry. The very Word of God made flesh, anointed by the Spirit, speaks the prophetic word handed to him. Then he sits, the traditional teaching posture. However, Jesus provides neither lecture nor exegetical analysis. He simply reveals himself as the place of encounter in whom the Lord’s word is fulfilled.The Lord’s words are indeed Spirit and life and glad tidings to the poor. Click To Tweet
Did the powerful present that day, who gained their wealth and influence by exploiting unjust systems, hear Jesus’s words as an endorsement of their good fortune? When Jesus proclaimed liberty to captives and good news to the poor, did they think he was speaking of them?
The Lord’s words are indeed Spirit and life and glad tidings to the poor. But as we will see in next week’s Gospel passage, those same words bring condemnation to those who too quickly believe they are meant for them.