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Saturday, January 9, 2011

Denaha 1st S.,Jan.9,11(Lk.4:14-22)

Holy Father Pope Benedict XV1 in his most recent book “Light of the World” speaks of the need for a new evangelization. He mentions that “ we are not a production plant, but a community of men standing in faith. The task is to live the faith in an exemplary way and to proclaim it….We must summon fresh energy for tackling the problem of how to announce the Gospel anew in such a way that this world can receive it.” On this day , when we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord , the thought that should come uppermost in our minds is how to make this Epiphany relevant in our times and how we can make Jesus manifest through our words and actions.

Like any other Jew of his time, Our Lord went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. The synagogue service usually consists of reciting the Shema, a summary of the Lord's precepts, "the eighteen blessings", and a reading from the Law (Pentateuch) and from the Prophets. The leader of the synagogue would invite the guest to read from the Scriptures and talk to them. Following that tradition, Jesus was invited to talk to them. He read the passage from Is.61:1-2 where the prophet announces to the people living in exile that a happy time would come with the arrival of the Savior and that they would experience total freedom from slavery and debts. That freedom would be ushered in by the arrival of the acceptable year of the Lord, referring to the proclamation of a jubilee year every fifty years when debts would be canceled and property would be restored to original owners as described in Leviticus Ch.25.

To those waiting eagerly to hear more about an immediate political liberation, Jesus announces that he is the Messiah and that the prophecy is being fulfilled in him. He is the one who is going to give them freedom, forgiveness and restoration. They expect actually freedom from their slavery to the Roman Empire and prosperity in a material sense. Jesus offers them freedom on a spiritual level.

It is very appropriate for us on this first Sunday of Denaha(Epiphany) to reflect on the words of the Prophet Isaiah which Our Lord uses to describe the nature of his ministry. Jesus offers the people spiritual deliverance from their slavery to sin and restoration to the status of the children of God. He is not a political Liberator who has come to battle with the Roman authorities. His battle is more central to the lives of every human being born on this earth His intention is to give true inner freedom which no power on earth can take away.

The poor and the hungry would no more feel helpless but would find unimaginable strength because of their faith in God. Their poverty and their rags will not be a drag any more. They come closer to God than those who are enjoying the luxuries of the world Poverty is no more a burden and a curse but a blessing and a source of freedom.

What does this mean for each one of us? Our faith should enable us to experience freedom and joy. It should make us aware that in our helplessness and poverty, we are not alone. God is with us.

For a Christian, every year should be a jubilee year. His sins get forgiven when he asks God for forgiveness and he is restored to God's favor. He should, then, be acting in the spirit of the Jubilee towards his neighbors. Hatred and vengeance have no place in a Christian's life. Forgiveness and unbounded charity are the expressions of true inner freedom. As Fulton J. Sheen has beautifully expressed: "It is one of the paradoxes of Christianity that the only things that are really our own when we die are what we gave away in His Name. What we leave in our wills is snatched from us by death; but what we give away is recorded by God to our eternal credit, for only our works follow us."

The celebration of the Epiphany or Denaha offers us an opportunity to proclaim a spiritual jubilee in our personal lives. What are the sins, omissions and lapses in our lives that make our relationship with God as well as with neighbors broken and fragmented? Is the lack of respect or of sensitivity on our part creating pain for those who live with us? Do our violent attitudes make the family life a burden to the members? If so, this is the time to seek the mercy and forgiveness from the Lord and to mend these broken relationships.

Then we too would be able to proclaim the Year of the Lord to those who live and interact with us.


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