To desire healing

Thanks to St Luke we have, in chapter four of his gospel, this succinct and powerful account of Jesus making known the mission from God that he understands himself to be on. He 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 right now, here, with them, at this moment: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words, God’s program of redemption goes beyond their boundaries and extends to the surrounding nations—to people who will accept this invitation much more readily than they themselves. The people of Nazareth do not like this. They remain oppressed by their own short-sightedness and captive to their own exclusivity.

It is still the same for us. Until we get the fact that we ourselves are oppressed by interior forces 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.

But by the healing grace of God, we are set in communities that mirror us to ourselves—much of what we are is there to see—and we are slowly taught to understand what it is we are looking at. If you show a small animal her face in a mirror she will often not only not recognize herself, but she will not even know what the object is that you are holding out to her. She will only say, “Hmm, is it safe? is it food?” If we, likewise, don’t recognize our concentric communal situations as mirrors given for our healing, the main thing they will be for us is possible sources of threat or consumption, when not sources of scandal (“Look at what that stupid person is doing,” and so on).

Fortunately the mirrors can work positively as well. Holiness and self-discipline and joy in others spurs holiness and discipline and joy in ourselves. Now is the year of the Lord’s favor. Now we are being given the opportunity to grow up into our full stature in Christ. 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.

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