First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Gospel: Luke 4:16-30
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.” (Luke 4:16-21)
Why did He come down to earth? Why did He come down from His thrown, take on the flesh of a person and allow Himself to suffer and die? The answer, while simple, is quite profound ... He did it all for us. Out of sheer love, He came down from heaven to be with us and to save us. He came down to bring "glad tidings to the poor ... to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free." He came to help us realize that true treasure and riches are found in the Lord and in heaven, not on material goods obtained here on earth. He shows us that freedom from the bondage of sin is found in Him and in His saving grace. Our vision has become distorted and dark, Christ comes to help restore our sight and to help us see our way more clearly. Because of Him, we are no longer in the dark, we have the light of Christ to illuminate our way.
By following His ways, we can live a life of freedom. We do not have to feel oppressed by sin or by those who seek to do us harm. We must remember that this life is just a temporary residence and that we should not fear death, for death is not the end, but it is rather the beginning of a new life ... an eternity with our Lord and Savior in paradise. Saint Paul tells us today in his letter to the Thessalonians: "We do not want to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with Him those who have fallen asleep ... console one another with these words."
If we always keep in our hearts and our minds the reason why He came, then we will always have hope, and we will live a life of purpose and joy.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we love you and thank you for your sacrifice and for the great gift of our lives. Lord, help us to not waste it and to always seek your will in our lives. Lord, you alone are good in this world and you know what is best for us. Lord help us to sacrifice for you as you have sacrificed for us. We pray for all those who are in need of conversion and for all those who have lost their hope, may they find it in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.