The Spirit of the Lord

This coming Sunday is the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time at the opening of the public ministry as told in the Gospel of Luke. It strikes me as supremely appropriate that the first record of public ministry is the very living Word made flesh sharing the Word of God. Luke records these first spoken words of Jesus’ ministry:

18 “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, 19 and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

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Filled with the Spirit

This coming Sunday is the 4th Sunday in Advent in cycle C of the lectionary. Our Gospel is taken from Luke 1:39-45:

39 During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, 42 cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

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Praying as we ought

“…the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will” (Roman 8:26-27)

And how are we to pray? One response is that as Jesus taught us: the Our Father. St. Paul knew that, so I suspect he had more in mind – after all the Holy Spirit had been given to the Church. St. Paul reminds us that, just as Jesus promised, we are not alone. We have a divine prayer partner. Let me suggest at least six ways the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Continue reading

According to the flesh

The first reading for today is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. The verses that caught my attention were: “…we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:12-13). As you read it, the natural question that arises is “what does it mean to live according to the flesh?” Continue reading

Living Waters

Spirit-n-CommandmentsIn our Pentecost Sunday gospel, as noted in yesterday’s post, to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room on that first Easter evening Jesus first words were: “Peace be with you.” His second words were: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  His thirds words were “Receive the Holy Spirit.” What had been promised in many ways in John 13-17, is now fulfilled in the giving of the Spirit. It also marks a turning point in salvation history as a fulfillment of the prophets, not just that the Messiah would come, but that the Messiah would begin the eschaton, the final era when the Kingdom of God would become manifest – and the future become present.

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Breath

Ever since the shift to daylight savings began my “inner alarm clock” wakes me up somewhere between 3:00 and 3:30 am. I am used to early rising, but really. And yes, naps are required at point(s) during the day. I was chatting about this yesterday with a friend who remarked, “You know, my 90 year-old aunt has the same problem…”  Yikes! My new measure is one of even-more-senior citizens?  Oh well, I am still young at heart. Continue reading

Change upon change upon change

This weekend I was in the back of the church and saw that the Lenten Giving Tree was still up, with unclaimed tags dangling on the barren branches. Apparently, it has been weeks since I have been in the back of the church. My world has gotten so much smaller. I wondered what else was back there as a reminder of a time before pandemic. There were copies of the bulletin for the Fourth Sunday of Lent. And here we are now at the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Things change. It is inevitable. It is the way of things. Continue reading

Nazareth: today

JesusIconNazarethThe Poor, Captive, Blind and Oppressed. It is important to note that this mission is specifically directed at the needs of people: poor, captive, blind, oppressed. Significantly, Jesus’ work will be good news to the poor. Mary’s prayer (1:52-52; the Magnificat) praises the Lord for lifting up the lowly and sending the rich away empty. Later, Jesus announces God’s blessing on the poor (6:20) and then refers to the fulfillment of the charge to bring good news to the poor in his response to John (7:22). The poor also figure more prominently in Jesus’ teachings in Luke than in any other Gospel (14:13, 21; 16:20, 22; 18:22; 21:3). Continue reading

Nazareth: first words

JesusIconNazarethHow appropriate that the first record of public ministry is the very living Word made flesh sharing the Word of God. Luke records these first spoken words of Jesus’ ministry:

18 “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, 19 and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Continue reading

Nazareth: spirit

JesusIconNazarethAs noted, this passage begins with a reference to Jesus being “in the power of the Spirit.” While there are no doubt some implicit Trinitarian ideas here, the OT should serve as the means of understanding the direction of Luke’s narrative. The OT metaphors of wind (Heb: ruach – breath, wind, spirit), smoke, and cloud, as well as fire, were ways of talking about the active presence of God in the world. Even though the single Hebrew term is translated in various ways even when used of God, this idea became a way to talk about God in terms of his immediate activity in the world. The idea behind the Hebrew term ruach expressed the immanence of God in the world and encompassed his willingness and power to act in human history. This idea carried over into most of the NT since the equivalent term in Greek (pneuma) carries the same varied meaning. As well, this “power of the Spirit” also points to a commissioning of prophets and enabling of leaders to carry out their mission. Continue reading