Thursday after Epiphany, 09-01-20 - Reflections and Liturgy

1 John 4:19 - 5:4 / Luke 4:14-22

How can we be sure we love God?: Whoever loves God must also love others.

Queen Victoria of England had a summer residence at Balmoral, England. One day she was out walking alone and got caught in a rainstorm. She ran to a small cottage for shelter and asked the woman who answered the door if she could borrow an umbrella.

She promised to return it the next day. Grudgingly, the woman, who had two umbrellas, gave her the one that was almost useless. The woman was astounded the next day when a servant returned it with a thank-you note from the queen. “Oh, if I’d only known it was really the queen!” the woman said.
Will we someday cry out about our treatment of the needy, “Oh, if I’d only known it was really Jesus!” “Whenever you did this for one of the least important of these . . . , you did it for me!” Matthew 25:40
Whenever we listen to a speech or read a passage, it is not that difficult to know what is emphasized and what the main point is.

The word or phrase that is repeated frequently usually express what the key point is.

In the 1st reading it is quite obvious what this high-frequency word is and what the key point is.

It is also the one and the same thing, and that is "love".

The gospel text may not have this word in it but it expresses what the mission of Jesus was all about - a mission of love.
He expressed that love in reality and at the same time He also pointed to the greater reality of love.

He gave sight to the blind, but He also wanted to liberate people from the greater blindness and darkness of the eyes of the heart.

He healed the crippled but He also wanted to free people from the shackles that cripple the spirit - fear, anger, hatred, resentment, envy, greed, lust, pride, selfishness, etc.

Jesus is love and He came to us with love. Love is His Word, love is His Way, love is His Truth.

We are called to be a people of love and a Church of love. Can others see that in us?



Speaking in the synagogue of Nazareth, Jesus says that God’s word is fulfilled today, that he proclaims and is the good news of joy to everyone.
Similarly, Jesus proclaims to us today in our Eucharistic assemblies the good news of God’s liberating love, and he is himself that good news, for he is present among us. This Eucharist is for us here today the moment of grace. The Spirit of Jesus rests on us now and gives us the capacity to speak and to be his message of hope, joy and love to our neighbor.

*Opening Prayer*

Lord God, loving Father, here in this Eucharistic assembly you let your Son speak to us today his stirring word of hope and joy.
Pour out on us the Spirit of Jesus, let him open us to the word of your Son and to his living presence, that we too may go out to our brothers and sisters to speak to them his liberating word, to be his healing presence, and to be grace to all whom we encounter, on account of your Son in our midst, Jesus Christ, our Lord forever. *Commentary*

Upon returning to his home town of Nazareth and reading from Isaiah in the synagogue on the Sabbath, Jesus defines his mission. Those who are expecting an earthly monarch will have to look elsewhere. Jesus identifies himself with a God-directed mission to the poor and to those physically or socially handicapped. The promise of Isaiah, Christ asserts, is fulfilled in him. As the letter of John insists, the one who hates his brother or sister is far from God. Moreover, the One who comes as our teacher and guide must himself offer an example of unqualified love. It is this love to which Jesus points in this early synagogue visit.
While the reaction of his audience is initially one of admiration, it takes little time for the people of Nazareth to reject him. He becomes the prophet without honor in his own country. In the face of his extraordinary claims, the mood of his audience changes. Claims that do not meet people’s expectations are more easily rejected than tested.
The calendar of Christian saints is replete with people rejected because of their honest gospel stand. One thinks of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador who was shot for speaking on behalf of the voiceless under a military dictatorship. It is often easier to be silent than to take a strong unequivocal position. One thinks also of St. Clare of Assisi, who wanted to give her life wholly to the gospel after the manner of her mentor and friend, Francis, but was strongly opposed by her own family.
In the face of important moral decisions, we may find reason to remain silent and undistinguished. But the Spirit emboldens us and moves us toward the hard decision. In today’s responsorial, the psalmist prays for the king in words that could be applied to all of us. “Give the king your justice, O God.” And to each one of us as well.

*Points to Ponder*

Speaking the truth in love
God’s concern for the unfortunate
Taking an unpopular position.


– Lord, give courage and eloquence to all teachers in the Church, that they may help us understand your word and proclaim it as good news to all, we pray:
– Lord, open our eyes to the miseries of people; make us concerned about those imprisoned in their fears and in the grip of injustice. Help us to bring them liberation, we pray:
– Lord, make us receptive to your word. Free us from banality and fear, from our self-security and certainties. Let your word of freedom be fulfilled in us today, we pray:

*Prayer over the Gifts*

Invisible God of people,
you let your Son ask of us today
to make your gratuitous love visible
in a world filled with fear.
Give us Jesus to eat and to drink,
that we may overcome
the forces of evil in and around us.
Let his self-sacrificing love,
his gentleness and loyalty
become flesh and blood in us
and brighten this world,
because you loved us first
in Jesus Christ our Lord.

*Prayer after Communion*

Lord God, loving Father,
this Eucharistic celebration has been for us
a moment of grace.
We thank you for opening our eyes and ears
that we, in our turn,
may be to the deaf and the blind your message of joy.
We thank you for liberating us
to bring your freedom to those captive
of their fears and our own inhumanity.
All this you have made possible
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We will make the message of our Lord Jesus Christ good news of hope and joy only if the Spirit of truth and love speaks in our words and if then we commit ourselves to what we say, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.