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January 27, 1995     The Message
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January 27, 1995 The Message --for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 "- Commentary __ Jesus first sermon continues: C cDncern for all nations dd: Gspel commentary for nua 29, 1995, Fourth Sun- 'J, urainary Time, Cycle C Luke 4:21.30. . Last Week we examined the p.ortance of the themes for anStlan mission that Luke incor- Jesus' first sermon at Nazareth. Those taken from Isaiah that citation of up the purpose of purpose of every B(N FATHER DILGER COLUMNIST to bring Good to the poor, freedom from op- creation or restoration of sight to the more than physical blindness), and the name of the Lord. That was the of Jesus' first sermon at Nazareth and life. this text from Isaiah, Jesus rolls it to an attendant, sits down homily or sermon on that text. It in mind that Luke is writing this about 50 years after Jesus' death. speaking. It is Luke's "spin" or true meaning of Isaiah notes first that in Jesus and his public themes of Isaiah stated above are Luke therefore teaches that Jesus is Hebrew Scriptures or Old states this at the beginning of he will do the same at the end. He Iesus as saving after the resurrection: Words that I spoke to you.,.that written about me in the Law of Moses, ts, and the Psalms, must be fulfilled. There is a general consensus. that Luke was writing for a Chris- tian congregation consisting mostly of non-Jews, that is, Gentiles. Both of his books show a major concern for the Gentiles, that Jesus' mes- sage is universal. For Luke Jesus was indeed sent as a Jew to the Jews first and through them to all the nations and tribes of the earth. Like any good homilist or preacher Luke turns to the Scriptures to prove his point. He demonstrates from the Old Testament that long before the time of Jesus God was al- ready showing concern for people beyond Judaism. The first example is Elijah the prophet. The time is about 860 B.C. There is a famine in Israel, a famine caused in no small part by the prayer of Eli- jah. Yahweh was the God of Israel and he alone was to be worshipped in Israel. As the Scriptures say, Yahweh was a jealous god. Now Ahab, to please his wife Jezebel, began also to worship her god whose name was Baal. In response to this idolatry Elijah's prayer brought a severe drought upon the land. For Elijah's survival, Yahweh sent him out of the coun- try. As Luke puts it in Jesus' sermon: There were many widows in Israel and Elijah could have been sent to stay with one of them. Instead he was sent to a Gentile widow, even into the very land where Baal was worshipped, the land of Sidon. This is Luke's first and somewhat strained argument to demon- strate the legitimacy of the Christian mission to the Gentiles. They were doing what God had already or- dered Elijah to do 900 years earlier. The second example is taken from the stories about Elisha, the prophet who succeeded Elijah. The time is about 850 B.C. A Syrian general named Naaman had contracted leprosy, a common disease at the time. A young Israelite slave girl who worked for Naaman's wife suggested that Naaman travel to Israel and approach Elisha the prophet about a cure. Eventually Naaman went to Elisha. He fol- lowed Elisha's directions to bathe seven times in the Jordan River "and his flesh was restored like .the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." Luke now makes his point. There were plenty of lepers in Is- rael, yet it was Naaman, the Syrian general, a hea- then, pagan, Gentile, who was cured. The point is to demonstrate that God has always been concerned about the Gentiles and thus it is legitimate for the Christian mission to preach to the Gentiles. Later in the gospel Luke will portray Jesus himself extend- ing his ministry to people other than those of his own race, Although at this point Luke has spun Jesus' first sermon in the direction of legitimizing the Christian mission to the Gentiles, the overall thrust of his gospel is an overriding concern for all the poor. ' A recent report reveals that an archbishop, now car- dinal, of a major American diocese, has set a goal of raising sixty million dollars to build a cultural cen- ter in honor of Pope John Paul II, who is said to be delighted at the prospect. In view of Jesus' first ser- mon in the Gospel of Luke, one is prompted to won- der how many houses for the poor Habitat for Hu- manity could build with those 60 million dollars. What a statement the cardinal could make by build- ing three thousand homes for the homeless in honor of Pope John Paul II! Then we would know that our leaders have understood Jesus' first sermon. Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19: I Corinthi. nas 12:31-13:13. Box 68, Montgomery, Indiana 47558 Traylor Phone: 486-3285 i Ed. L. Lee ] Mortuary 101 North Meridian Street Washington, IN 254-3612 aUi es, addresses, phone Clire,f rs, Places, dates, offices, tots, Parishes, schools, inst, . tat,t, ins, Vital statistics, financial the} ,cs, Priests' assignments -- are all in the 1995 Yearbook of the "atholic Diocese of Evansville. the Ca., se your copy at "" inolic Center for $7.50 For . a. 'l rclers, inclu,^ , " . (  'uStat,, _ u ,,,.. 50 for ORDER FORM ! I I I 1 69 YEARBOOK 47724.0169 | STATE  ZIP COST PER YEARBOOK $9.00 I NO. OF BOOKS X ! TOTAL $ ENCLOSED (includes postage & han D'O'W'N-T.O-W N 301 MAIN ST. VINCENNES, IN 47591 M&S Fire & Safety Equip. Co. Inc. Over 25 years sales and' service in the Tri-state 670 E. Franklin 424-3863 I I Hi-Tech Sheet Metal Inc. 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