The Prelate’s Sermon – October 17, 2021
Today on the sixth Sunday of the Feast of the Holy Cross our Scriptural reading is from the Gospel of St. Luke 4:16-23. On a Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, our Lord according to His custom goes to the synagogue in Nazareth. When He is asked to proclaim the daily scriptural reading, He reads the following from the prophet 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” (see Isaiah 61:1-3).
This passage, as much as it reflects the essence of our Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly mission, is the basis of our Christian identity and mission as well. Hence, I would like to share the following thoughts.
- “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me.” The prophetic vision concerning the Messiah was familiar to the leaders as well as to the audience in the synagogue. Anointing is the external sign of divine approval for those who were called to serve the Lord as we read in Exodus 30:30, where God commands Moses: “You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, in order that they may serve me as priests.” Samuel, before he proclaimed Saul as the first king of Israel, “took a vial of oil and poured it on his (Saul’s) head, and kissed him and said, ‘The Lord has anointed you ruler over His people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around’” (1 Sam 10:1). The Prophet Isaiah prophesied the true Savior, the Messiah,i.e.the Anointed One, who was expected to save His people from the oppressors and reestablish the kingdom of David. Hence, when Jesus read this passage and concluded that “today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”, even though the congregation was not able to fully grasp the depth of what He was signaling, nevertheless from human perspective, they were witnessing the dawning of their expectations.
- It is true that this prophecy is a reference to the Messiah. Nevertheless, we should always be reminded that its content applies to the believers of all generations. With our baptism, we are born again and anointed with the Holy Muron, the symbol of receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit, and by carrying the sacred name of Christ, we are called Christians. Therefore, like Christ we should be conscious that the Holy Spirit is upon us, and as such, we should constantly walk in the Holy Spirit and be renewed in His grace.
- “To bring good news to the poor…”. As we enjoy the blessings of the Holy Spirit, we should not be selfish in assuming that the Spirit is only for our internal benefit. It brings a dynamism by leading us to an outward mission. Regardless of gender, age, color, and status, we are all invited to reach out to the world in word and by action. As anointed ones, we are called upon to be follow the example of the Messiah by bringing the good news to the poor who are deprived of Divine grace. We are invited with the fruit of the Holy Spirit gently to understand (Gal 5:22) the worries and anxieties of others, and to relieve them from their burden. We are commissioned to open the eyes of all those who are blind not only physically, but also intellectually and spiritually.
- “To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” As the anointed ones, it is our prime obligation to proclaim the Favor of God expressed on the Cross, which is extended eternally from age to age. When we receive a favor, we acknowledge and become grateful, especially when it is substantial. But how about when we are recipients of a lifetime gift which modifies our entire existence? As the heavens tell the glory of God (Ps 19:1), we, the anointed ones with the Holy Spirit, should ceaselessly recount the Source of all favors, as we sing the prayerful hymn of King Hezekiah, “I will not cease to praise you, O Savior, throughout all the days of my life” (Isaiah 38:20).
With this awesome message of being the carriers of life-giving Holy Spirit, let us be attentive to read on a daily basis the Scriptures, and to be renewed in His gift which reenergizes us in navigating in this stormy life to arrive at the peaceful harbor prepared by God, to whom is befitting glory and honor. Amen.