Oppression & possibility
St Luke offers a succinct and powerful account of Jesus announcing the mission from God he understands himself to be on. Jesus has found the summary of his purpose in the words of the prophet Isaiah: to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Most startlingly, Jesus says, this starts with his audience, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
And immediately Jesus is as good as this word, telling his people—today, his church—that while they are blessed, they are not the only ones to be blessed, that God’s program of healing redemption goes beyond the boundaries of one chosen people and extends to the “others” round about—to people who will, in fact, accept this invitation much more readily than they have done. And his audience does not like this. They remain oppressed by their own short-sightedness and captive to their own circumscribed boundaries.
And so it is with us. Until we get the fact that we ourselves are “poor, wretched, blind and naked,” oppressed by interior forces of wrath of which we are often ignorant, and over which we have little ability or will to oppose, we will not be able to participate fully in the mission of Jesus.
We are, by the healing grace of God, set in communities that mirror us to ourselves, so we may learn to examine and judge ourselves by what we see in the mirror these various communities provide. But if we don’t recognize them as mirrors offered for our healing, the main thing they will be to us is an ever-flowing source of scandal: “This person is getting in the way of what I need to do” “That person is doing everything wrong,” and so on.
Now is the year of the Lord’s favor. Now we are being given the opportunity to grow up into freedom. The more we engage this ongoing process of healing, repentance and conversion, the more we will be able to take on our share of Jesus’s mission in the world. It starts here.