Who is standing up to read the scroll today? (Luke 4:16ff)
A friend stands up in our world today
As I was reflecting on Jesus “mission statement” in tomorrow’s gospel I received a joyful email from Slovenia. Rok Zlender proudly announced that yesterday he had pronounced his final vows in the Congregation of the Mission. I knew him during his novitiate here in Philadelphia.
It occurred to me that yesterday Rok had stood up in a synagogue-like setting and accepted as his mission for life as the same mission as Jesus. The scripture seemed to jump off the pages of the gospel as I placed Rok in that scene.
I wrote back to him congratulating him on standing up in our day as Jesus had done in his day.
Vincent’s way of reading the scriptures
This experience reminded me of something I had written just 2 weeks ago…
Vincent not only studied the scripture, he seemed to live and breathe the scriptures especially the Gospels. He allowed the scriptures to shape the way he interpreted his life. It was as if he were reading the book of the events of his life in one hand and the scriptures in the other hand.
I realized that the times the scriptures seem most alive to me are when I see myself in the stories recounted. Of course… I always identify with the “good guys” and am surprised at how slow-witted the “bad guys” are. I surely would have recognized the young couple knocking at the door as Mary and Joseph. Oh yeah!
At one level it is easy and even somewhat glorious to place myself on the pages of scripture. It is an exercise of imagination especially when I identify with the hero. But that is not the whole story.
Reimagining myself standing up saying “This day…”
Many years ago I was handed a card that read. “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” This is certainly a thought-provoking and a soul-searching question as evidenced by my recalling it so many years later.
So it is with reading Luke 4:14. I realize I figuratively stood up I the church of my day when I committed myself in the Congregation of the MISSION. I committed myself to a mission of bringing good news to the poor and marginalized. Now 62 years later I wonder whether I am still on my way to saying “mission accomplished.”
The gospel is an occasion to celebrate Jesus’ accepting the mission from his Father. The passage from Luke is also a challenge to ask myself how much evidence is there that I am working toward the completion of the mission I have committed myself to.
Questions about our mission
- Do I look for myself in the pages of scripture?
- How conscious am I of the mission and meaning of my life?
- How consistent are my actions with the overarching mission that Jesus entrusted to each of us?