From the Pastor – January 23, 2022

US Catholic ChurchesHe came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”  (Lk. 4:16-19)

Imagine being present in the synagogue when this dramatic scene took place.  All the eyes are on Jesus, and He reads this dramatic reading from Isaiah 61, and then succinctly explains that the passage refers to Him.  There are three important Greek words in this passage to help us to understand the drama.  The three words are ecrisen (“echrisen”), aposteilai (“aposteilai”) and euaggelizesqai (“evangelizesthai”).  Understanding these words helps us understand the importance of the scene.

The first word – “echrisen” – means “anointed,” and is related to the word “Christ,” the anointed one.  In other words, Jesus is telling people that He is the Christ, which is the Greek word for Messiah! He is declaring His identity by announcing that He is the fulfillment of this prophecy.  The second word – “aposteilai” – means “sent,” and is the verb from which we get the word, Apostle, “one who is sent forth.”  Jesus is announcing that He is the one who has been anointed and sent forth from the Lord.  But why is He sent forth?  The answer is in the third Greek word – evangelizesthai – which means to “evangelize.”  Although we define “evangelize” as “spreading the Faith by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the Greek sense of the word is to “announce something wonderful.”  And what is that something?  It’s actually a “someone.”

The wonderful thing is that God has humbled Himself to come down to Earth to walk among His creation and free us from the things that keep us from being in total communion with Him.  The wonderful thing is that He loves us.  The wonderful thing is that He forgives us.  The wonderful thing is that He can heal us – body, mind and soul.  And the wonderful thing is that He liberates us from a slavery to sin so that we can live in peace and harmony with Him and with each other.  But the most wonderful thing not contained in this passage from Isaiah is how Christ is going to accomplish this “wonderful thing.”  And that’s the mystery – the Paschal Mystery.  Jesus Christ is going to accomplish a “re-union” between God and man by offering Himself – His divinity and our humanity – on the cross.  And the wonderful thing is that He gave us a real, substantial way to enter into that Paschal Mystery here on Earth.  We achieve “re-union” with the Father through Holy Communion with His Son in unity with the Holy Spirit.  And the wonderful thing is that it happens at every Mass.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty