Daily Office Readings – Gospel ( Luke 4:14-30 )

Today’s Gospel recounts the familiar story of Jesus getting up in the synagogue to read the words of Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.

Isaiah 61:1-2a

Afterwards, he sits down, and then, as everyone is staring at him, he says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” At first, “all spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” But then, a glimmer of a memory poked upon someone’s mind, and they began to question who Jesus really was.

“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

The people are amazed at his words, and despite their amazement, some people start to say, “Didn’t we play stickball with him?” “Didn’t he once pull the tail of a donkey and make it bray so loudly at 3am that all the neighbors woke up?” “Didn’t he used to catch frogs down by the river and scare the girls with them?”

“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

But Jesus recognizes their scrutiny, and their doubt, and says to them that “no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.”

I’m less concerned with what he said after this to inflame the anger of those present, and more interested in the recognition by Jesus himself that a prophet will never be accepted in his hometown.

Family, friends, and just those who watched you grow up have a wonderful way of always managing to remember the worst little foibles and details. Things we would like to forget. Things we would hope that others had forgotten. But people tend to hold on to those things because it helps to support the idea of equality. The difference, of course, is that rather than allowing someone to move onward and upward, to change, to become a new person, people feel the need to pull them back down to the levels they once inhabited. They may say it’s in order to keep a person from getting a big head, and that they are doing it in jest; and that may very well be true. But most often, it’s a curious form of doubt that says, how can this person I knew, this person who used to curse loudly, drink heavily, and make fun of all the rest of us suddenly have entered into a ministry that is bearing fruit?

It just can’t be.

Even Jesus recognized the doubt cast upon him by those who knew him best. Doubt about his current ministry, not because they didn’t see the signs, but because of the image they had of who he used to be.

But he was no longer the boy they knew growing up.

He had entered fully into the calling that God had prepared for him, and his true nature was now apparent. He was sent to bring good news to the poor and proclaim release to the captives, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

The moment we’ve grasped the reality of our new life in Christ, we too enter into our true nature, and we too step into a new role. People may still remember the stupid things we did, the idiotic things we said, the things we wish they would forget. But we are no longer defined by what we’ve done and who we have been; instead, we are defined by what we are becoming.

About Michael

Mike was called to be the Vicar of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Wickenburg, AZ, and started this call on February 1, 2024. Before taking a call as clergy, Mike worked in IT for almost 25 years, variously working as a back- and front-end web developer, database developer and manager, and as a business analyst. If he's not engaged in the work of the church, you can find him on a motorcycle, enjoying the ride, or training for an upcoming BikeMS ride. Mike holds a Bachelor of Arts in Classical History from Seattle Pacific University, and a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. He attended Sewanee School of Theology for a year of Anglican Studies in the Fall of 2022, and graduated in May of 2023. Mike was ordained as a Transitional Deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona on January 20th, 2024, and will be ordained to the priesthood on July 27, 2024.

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