Many of us have been asked the question: “If you were to be stranded on a desert isle with just one ________(fill in the blank – woman, man, book, tool, passage from the bible, etc) what would it be? And though I usually don’t give a lot of time to that question, it did make me think of today’s gospel question. If you had to pick one scripture passage to summarize your life, what would it be?”
We hear today of Jesus doing just that. At the beginning of his public ministry, he picks out one passage from Isaiah, arguably either his favorite book or the gospel writers favorite one, and with great clarity says this is what I am about. Remember, in Luke’s Gospel, sandwiched in between the passage we heard today is his Baptism – where he ‘hears’ his Identity when the heavens are opened – “This if My Beloved Son”. That passage is followed by his temptation in the wilderness when the devil says: “Beloved of God?” – let ME tell you what that looks like. Jesus is tested and now returns to Nazareth where he boldly proclaims: Folks, here is who I know myself to be as I begin my work among you. It’s not exactly what you would think a messiah is supposed to be – you are hoping for someone to overthrow the Romans – but I will be something different. I will be always and at every moment the beloved of God. And let me use these words of Isaiah to give you a glimpse of what I understand my life is about.”
So what does Jesus tell that crowd in the synagogue that day, and we who hear his words two thousand years later?
There is a God-given, God-driven work to be done. And we are all called to do our part in that work. You can’t take a pass on it, or say: “It’s not my job.” God gives us a work to do, even if, as St. Paul tells us, we might function as different parts of the body.
…The Spirit of the Lord is upon us.
And if you want to know what that looks like, then:
Give a coat to someone who is cold,
give a bit of food to the hungry,
work with the legislature to enact laws to allow people the dignity of taking care of themselves… Do the works of mercy and the works of Justice
…be good news to the poor
Do you want to live more deeply what is it to be son/daughter of God?
forgive someone whom you have held a grudge against
let go of a prejudice you’ve long held that surfaces when you too quickly pass on those questionable emails that are funny at someone else’ degradation.
support a pregnant mother that she might bring her unborn child to term
…proclaim release to prisoners, liberty to captives
Do you want to live profoundly what is means to be beloved?
help a child to learn the love of God for them
enable an adult to see because of you, the reality of God and his care,
let your wife, your husband, your son/daughter/friend see their goodness – because you have reflected it to them instead of chosen to point out their faults.
… allow the blind to see…
Do you wish to know how to be God’s presence in the world?
bless a friend with a letter or a visit
cancel a punishment (just this once)
invite a friend to dinner
work a pro-life crisis hotline,
be a part of the peace vigil in front of College church
…announce a year of favor from the Lord.
You don’t need to be stranded on an island to know what mattered to Jesus. The rest of his life and ministry attests to his choice to live out his self understanding from that one passage from Isaiah. In all of his “Today’s,” that scripture passage was fulfilled. And if that passage was good enough for Jesus to live into, then, it is good enough for us believers as well…