Sunday, January 27, 2019


He 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."

Jesus read the words of Isaiah from the scroll, and then he said he had fulfilled that passage.  How many of us would be able to read from the scroll – from our Bible – and say the same things?   Have we brought glad tidings to the poor?   And why not because our Church has a preferential option for the poor.

According to U.S. Catholic Magazine (Jan 2015), “In 1991, Pope John Paul II used the term, and elaborated on the concept in his encyclical Centesimus Annus.  In that encyclical, which celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labor), John Paul II expanded the use of the “option for the poor” to include spiritual as well as material poverty.  Pope Benedict XVI, who was rather famously antagonistic to liberation theology, embraced the option for the poor as a true Catholic obligation, and extended the understanding of the poor to include all those who are marginalized in society: widows, children, people with disabilities, and victims of oppression, among others.

In our contemporary political landscape, the option for the poor gets bandied about by people on all sides of the political spectrum.  It is part of debates regarding welfare, food stamps, private charity, political advocacy, and more.  At the end of the day, the preferential option for the poor does not tell us how we are to achieve it.  It only lets us know that in our lives as Christians, we are called to give up some of our God-given breath to care for the poor."

Can we say today that this Scripture passage has been fulfilled in others' hearing?

Deacon David Pierce

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