Alternate reading: Matthew 2:1-12

Luke 4:14-22

14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read; 17 and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."

20 And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." 22 And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; and they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?"

Meditation: What can bring us true freedom and joy? In Jesus we see the healing power of God's love and mercy in action. Wherever Jesus went, people gathered to hear him speak about the kingdom of heaven and God's promise to bring freedom and healing to those who put their trust in God. His gracious words brought hope, joy, and favor to those who were ready to receive him.

Jesus began his public ministry in his own land of Galilee where he was reared. His proclamation of the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah brought wonder to the people. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those oppressed by sin and evil (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus awakened their hope in the promises of God. They, in turn, received his words favorably and wondered what would become of "Joseph's son". Their hearts were hungry for the word of life and they looked to Jesus with anticipation and wonder. Do you look to Jesus with confidence and hope in the fulfillment of all God's promises?

The word "gospel" literally means "good news". Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those who suffered from physical, mental, or spiritual oppression (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free, not only from their infirmities, but from the worst affliction of all - the tyranny of slavery to sin, Satan, and the fear of losing one's life. God's power alone can save us from dejection, hopelessness, and emptiness of life. The Gospel of salvation is "good news" for everyone who will receive it. Do you know the joy and freedom of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to bring us the kingdom of heaven?

Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams. Through the gift of your Holy Spirit you bring us truth, freedom, and abundant life. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your kingdom of peace and righteousness.

Psalm 72:1-2, 14-17

1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!
2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.
15 Long may he live, may gold of Sheba be given to him! May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all the day!
16 May there be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may men blossom forth from the cities like the grass of the field!
17 May his name endure for ever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May men bless themselves by him, all nations call him blessed!

Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: Christ brings hope of release from spiritual bondage, by Eusebius of Caesarea, 260/263-340 AD

"'The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me' (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1). Clearly this happened to those who thought that the Christ of God was neither a mere man nor an unfleshed and unembodied Word who did not take on a mortal nature. Instead they say he is both God and human, God in that he is the only-begotten God who was in the bosom of the Father, and man... from the seed of David according to the flesh (Luke 1:32). Thus, God the Word, who through the prophecy has been called Lord, speaks out this prophecy that is preeminent among other promises: 'I am the Lord, and in the right time I will draw them together'...

"Taking the chrism in the Holy Spirit, he, chosen from among all, appears as the only-begotten Christ of God. And the verse 'he has sent me to proclaim good news to the poor' (Luke 4:18), he fulfilled in that time when he 'was preaching the kingdom of heaven' and explaining the beatitudes to the disciples by saying, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God' (Matthew 5:3)... And for those nations then imprisoned in their souls by the invisible and spiritual powers he preached release to his newly encouraged disciples... Therefore, he preached release to the prisoners and to those suffering from blindness who were those enslaved by the error of polytheism, and he creates a year that is acceptable, through which he made all time his own year. And from the passing years of humanity he provides days of created light for those close to him. He never kept hidden the age that is to come after the perfecting of the present. For that age will be a time much on the Lord's mind, being an age and day of requiting. For he will grant a change of fortune or a year of favor to those struggling in the present life." (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON ISAIAH 2.51.5)

[Eusebius of Caesarea (260/263-340) was a bishop, Scripture scholar and first historian of the Christian church.]