Jesus 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.
Rolling up the scroll,
he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'”
And he said,
“Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
4:16 Nazareth: Jesus’ boyhood home (2:51). See note on Lk 1:26. synagogue: A small building used for worship and instruction in the Bible. Sabbath services were structured around the reading and exposition of the Law of Moses (Acts 15:21) and the prophets (4:17; Acts 13:15).
4:18–19 A reference to Is 61:1–2, with an additional excerpt from Is 58:6. Since many during NT times expected the Messiah to liberate Israel from the political domination of the Romans, the townspeople mistakenly thought these passages promised their national independence (CCC 439). ● Isaiah’s oracle picks up the language of Lev 25 regarding the jubilee year. As part of Israel’s economic legislation, a jubilee was celebrated every 50 years. It signaled the remission of debts, the release of slaves, and the return of ancestral property to its original family owners. Isaiah projects this jubilee celebration into the future when God will come to release Israel from its slavery (idols) and debt (guilt). Jesus follows the spirit of Isaiah when he announces liberation from sin, not from political or economic subjugation (Rom 6:6).
4:18 good news to the poor: Christ reserves many blessings for the lowly and powerless (1:52; 6:20; 14:12–14; 16:19–26; 18:1–8; 19:8–10; CCC 544, 2443).
4:22 Joseph’s son?: People naturally considered Jesus the offspring of Joseph, unaware of his virginal conception by the Holy Spirit (1:34–35; 3:23). The Nazarenes were skeptical about Jesus’ credentials and felt he was unqualified to inaugurate Israel’s national liberation (Mk 6:1–3).
4:24 no prophet is acceptable: Jesus places himself in the company of the OT prophets, many of whom were rejected and even killed by fellow Israelites (11:47; 13:33–34; Acts 7:52).
4:25–30 Jesus recalls the mission of Elijah and Elisha to explain his own. ● These prophets lived during dark times, when God looked unfavorably upon the northern kingdom of Israel and sent blessings to the Gentiles instead. Elijah was sent to a widow in Sidon (1 Kings 17:1–16), and Elisha cleansed a Syrian leper (2 Kings 5:1–14). Jesus declares that the “acceptable year of the Lord” (4:19) will likewise be a time of blessing, even outside of Israel. This collided with Jewish perspectives that anticipated only punishment for Gentile nations.
The words of Isaiah which Christ read out on this occasion describe very graphically the reason why God has sent his Son into the world—to redeem men from sin, to liberate them from slavery to the devil and from eternal death. Christ worked miracles not so much to release the people concerned from suffering, as to demonstrate that he had a God-given mission to bring everyone eternal redemption.
The Church carries on this mission of Christ to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:19–20).
These simple and sublime words point out the obligation of all the baptized to preach the truths of faith, the need for a sacramental life, and the promise of Christ’s continual assistance to his Church. It is with this mandate that Christ founded his Church so that it can bring salvation to souls – only if she remains faithful to Christ in her teaching.
– Curtis Mitch
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.