Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have taken place among us, exactly as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus, so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received.
Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.
He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.
He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’
During this time early in the ministry of Jesus the people were hungry for his message. The antagonism of some groups was not so evident and it seems that the power of what Jesus was saying and how he said it, with authority, was like a magnet for the people.
The downtrodden, the blind (physically and metaphorically), the poor, those who were enslaved in some way were all present among the people he spoke to in the synagogue. “The Lord’s year of favour” must have been an attractive idea to many people who listened to him.
Just before Jesus ascended into heaven he promised the disciples that they would be “clothed with the power from on high”; in other words that they would receive the Spirit which would enable them to act as he did. That promise was made to all the disciples of Jesus, then and throughout time, which includes us.
During the conferring of the sacrament of Confirmation the celebrant prays for the candidates, asking God to confer on them the gifts of the Holy Spirit:
All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit dispose those who have been confirmed to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The exercise of the gifts requires a willingness to learn to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit, and to respond to the Spirit’s promptings. Confirmation does not magically create people who are obviously gifted. It takes time, perseverance, patience and the desire to pursue a truly spiritual path, for the gifts to reach their full potential.
Learning to live with the Holy Spirit begins with a simple daily prayer that we might recognize and respond to the promptings of the Spirit during that day. A second step could be a nightly reflection looking (with the Lord’s help) for the presence of the Holy Spirit in the day, and how we responded. Progress depends upon the willingness to allow the promptings of the Holy Spirit to be heard among the other noise in our lives.