Sent to liberate the heart and soul LUKE 1:1–4, 4:14–21
In today’s Gospel, we are presented, first, with the opening of the Gospel of St Luke, where St Luke explains to us that he seeks to give an account of the life of Jesus Christ. We know that St Luke was a physician and a disciple of St Paul and that he also wrote the book of the ‘Acts of the Apostles’.
As Catholics, it is very important that we read and reflect upon Sacred Scripture, so that we can come to a deeper understanding of God’s covenantal relationship with His people, a relationship that comes to its fulfilment in Jesus Christ, the Word of God in the flesh.
Through practices such as Lectio Divina, we are invited to delve more deeply into the Bible and reflect upon how we can truly live out the gospel in and through our lives.
As the gospel of today continues, we are told that Jesus, “with the power of the Holy Spirit in Him,” entered the synagogue and read Isaiah’s messianic prophecy, which Jesus says, much to the amazement of those present, is being fulfilled as they listen. Here Jesus begins to reveal that He is the awaited one, the Messiah who is to bring about salvation.
In reading from the prophet Isaiah, Jesus explains that he is the one who will proclaim “liberty to captives” and “to the blind, new sight”. This liberty that our Lord speaks of is, however, not some kind of political revolution but a revolution that brings about freedom of the heart and soul. In giving us the gift of salvation, through His crucifixion, death and resurrection, Jesus frees us from the bondage of sin.
In light of this, we are all invited to experience the forgiveness of God in the Sacrament of His Divine Mercy, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We all know that, as human beings, each one of us falls into sin, but God, in His infinite mercy, helps us to get back up after sinning. His forgiveness makes us whole again.
Many people, however, ask why we need to go to a priest to access the forgiveness of God, and can’t we just go to God directly? Of course we can go to God directly, asking Him to forgive us every day but we must also go to Confession, to a priest, because this is what Christ tells us to do.
At the end of the Gospel of St John, the Risen Lord appears to His disciples and says to them, “receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:22–23). In so doing, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus gives His disciples, and by extension all priests, the power to forgive sins in His name.
What is very interesting is that, immediately before saying this, the Risen Lord breathes His breath of life upon His disciples. This is the same breath of life that God breathed into Adam and Eve when he created them, and therefore, through the Sacrament of Confession, the faithful can be given new life, through the breath of God’s forgiveness.
Jesus also gives the disciples His peace, as He says to them twice, “peace be with you” (Jn 20:19–21). This peace that Jesus gives to the disciples is the same peace that they will then give to others, through His forgiveness. The priest merely acts as an instrument of God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Confession as it is God who forgives our sins.
May we come to know our Lord in a deeper way through our reflection upon Sacred Scripture. May we also always allow the healing power of God’s forgiveness to flow though us and make us whole again in the Sacrament of His Divine Mercy, the Sacrament of Confession.
The Gospel Meditations for January 20 and 27 were by Trinidadian priest Fr Matthew Martinez OP who is currently ministering in Sligo, Republic of Ireland.