From: Isaiah 61:1-3a, 6a, 8-11
The Herald of Good Tidings
 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
61:1-11. Into the air of great joy reflected in the previous hymn, the prophet inserts this very important oracle about the new messenger (vv. 1-3). The rest of the chapter is made up of three stanzas that celebrate the wonders of the holy city. These can be seen in profound, spiritual renewal (vv. 4-7), perfect fulfillment of the promises made to the ancient patriarchs (vv. 8-9), and joy-in-worship, comparable to that of bridegroom and bride, or that of the farmer on seeing a rich harvest (vv. 10-11).
The remarkable events and features of the city point to the time of the End, the tune of the Lord’s definitive salvific intervention. In this context these new things are ultimate and definitive. Because in the New Testament the Church is called Gods building (1 Cor 3:9), erected on the foundation of the apostles (1 Cor 3:11), Christian tradition has seen the new, glorious Jerusalem as a symbol of the Churchthat makes its way through this world and will be made manifest at the end of time (cf. “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, 756-757).
61:1-3. This very compact oracle depicts the eschatological messenger speaking a 5oliloquy. It is one of the key passages in the book of Isaiah. It clearly has connections with the songs of the Servant, especially the second song (49:1-6). The pouring out of the Spirit involves anointing as in the case of the king (cf. 11:2) and in that of the Servant of the Lord (42:1). But the messenger is more than a king, more than a prophet, more than the community dwelling in the holy city in the latter days. His mission is a dual one— to be a messenger and a comforter. As a messenger, like a kings ambassador in times of war, he brings good tidings: he announces redemption for slaves, release for prisoners (cf. Jer 34:8, 17). His message proclaims a new order things where there will be no need for repression and where concord and well-being will prevail. The year of the Lords favor” (v. 2) is similar to the jubilee year (cf. Lev 25:8-19) or the sabbatical year (cf. Ex 21:2-11; Jer 34:14; Ezek 46:17) in the sense that it is a day chosen by the Lord, and different from any other; but here it means the point at which God shows himself to be most gracious and bestows definitive salvation (cf. 49:8). It is also called the day of vengeance (V. 2) because on that day, essentially a day of good news, the wicked, too, receive their just deserts.
As a comforter he will bind up hearts broken by illness or misfortune, and give encouragement to those who weep and revive those who mourn in Zion. When the comforter is the Lord or a messenger of his (cf. 40:1), one can expect him to re-establish his peoples to set things right, (the way they were at the beginning), to renew the broken Covenant and re-establish institutions that had been dismantled, that is, bring about a situation where everything is in plentiful supply.
People who have reached rock bottom (the poor, prisoners etc.) will be given a place of honor on that day, and a wreath, perfume and a mantle of praise (V. 3). In sacred texts of the post-exilic period, the concept of the poor (or afflicted: cf. note m) already went beyond the social category of those least well off: it had a religious connotation, meaning the humble, those who saw themselves as having no value before God and who simply put their faith in his divine mercy. The final definition of the poor will emerge in the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12).
In Jesus time, Jewish tradition, found in the targum or Aramaic translation of the Bible, considered the messenger described here to be a prophet (and for that reason it introduced this oracle with the words “Thus says the prophet). So, when Jesus reads this passage in the synagogue of Nazareth he points out that today the scripture has been fulfilled (Lk 4:21) and that he is the prophet of whom Isaiah spoke. By doing so, he is saying that he is the Messiah, the Christ, the one anointed by the Holy Spirit (cf. Is 11:2), not so much as a king but as a prophet who proclaims salvation. Ever since then, Christian teaching sees Jesus as the last messenger sent by the Holy Spirit: The prophet presents the Messiah as the one who comes in the Holy Spirit, the one who possesses the fullness of this Spirit in himself and at the same time for others, for Israel, for all the nations, for all humanity. The fullness of the Spirit of God is accompanied by many different gifts, the treasures of salvation, destined in a particular way for the poor and suffering, for all those who open their hearts to these gifts—sometimes through the painful experience of their own existence—but first of all through that interior availability which comes from faith. The aged Simeon, the righteous and devout man upon whom rested the Holy Spirit, sensed this at the moment of Jesus presentation in the Temple, when he perceived in him the salvation prepared in the presence of all peoples at the price of the great suffering—the Cross—which he would have to embrace together with his Mother. The Virgin Mary, who had conceived by the Holy Spirit, sensed this even more clearly, when she pondered in her heart the mysteries of the Messiah, with whom she was associated (”Dominum Et Vivificantem”, 16).
From: Luke 4:14-22
Jesus Fasts and is Tempted in the Wilderness (Continuation)
Jesus Preaches in Nazareth
16-30. For the Jews the Sabbath was a day of rest and prayer, as God commanded (Exodus 20:8-11). On that day they would gather together to be instructed in Sacred Scripture. At the beginning of this meeting they all recited the “Shema”, a summary of the precepts of the Lord, and the “eighteen blessings”. Then a passage was read from the Book of the Law—the Pentateuch—and another from the Prophets. The president invited one of those present who was well versed in the Scriptures to address the gathering. Sometimes someone would volunteer and request the honor of being allowed to give this address—as must have happened on this occasion. Jesus avails Himself of this opportunity to instruct the people (cf. Luke 4:16ff), as will His Apostles later on (cf. Acts 13:5, 14, 42, 44; 14:1; etc.). The Sabbath meeting concluded with the priestly blessing, recited by the president or by a priest if there was
one present, to which the people answered “Amen” (cf. Numbers 6:22ff).
18-21. Jesus read the passage from Isaiah 61:1-2 where the prophet announces the coming of the Lord, who will free His people of their afflictions. In Christ this prophecy finds its fulfillment, for He is the Anointed, the Messiah whom God has sent to His people in their tribulation. Jesus has been anointed by the Holy Spirit for the mission the Father has entrusted to Him. “These phrases, according to Luke (verses 18-19), are His first messianic declaration. They are followed by the actions and words known through the Gospel. By these actions and words Christ makes the Father present among men” (John Paul II, “Dives In Misericordia”, 3).
The promises proclaimed in verses 18 and 19 are the blessings God will send His people through the Messiah. According to Old Testament tradition and Jesus’ own preaching (cf. note on Matthew 5:3), “the poor” refers not so much to a particular social condition as to a very religious attitude of indigence and humility towards God, which is to be found in those who, instead of relying on their possessions and merits, trust in God’s goodness and mercy. Thus, preaching good news to the poor means bringing them the “good news” that God has taken pity on them. Similarly, the Redemption, the release, which the text mentions, is to be understood mainly in a spiritual, transcendental sense: Christ has come to free us from the blindness and oppression of sin, which, in the last analysis, is slavery imposed on us by the devil. “Captivity can be felt”, St. John Chrysostom teaches in a commentary on Psalm 126, “when it proceeds from physical enemies, but the spiritual captivity referred to here is worse; sin exerts a more severe tyranny, evil takes control and blinds those who lend it obedience; from this spiritual prison Jesus Christ rescued us” (”Catena Aurea”). However, this passage is also in line with Jesus’ special concern for those most in need. “Similarly, the Church encompasses with her love all those who are afflicted by human misery and she recognizes in those who are poor and who suffer the image of her poor and suffering Founder. She does all in her power to relieve their need and in them she strives to serve Christ” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 8).
18-19. The words of Isaiah which Christ read out on this occasion describe very graphically the reason why God has sent His Son into the world—to redeem men from sin, to liberate them from slavery to the devil and from eternal death. It is true that in the course of His public ministry Christ, in His mercy, worked many cures, cast out devils, etc. But He did not cure all the sick people in the world, nor did He eliminate all forms of distress in this life, because pain, which entered the world through sin, has a permanent redemptive value when associated with the sufferings of Christ. Therefore, Christ worked miracles not so much to release the people concerned from suffering, as to demonstrate that He had a God-given mission to bring everyone to eternal salvation.
The Church carries on this mission of Christ: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). These simple and sublime words, which conclude the Gospel of St. Matthew, point out “the obligation to preach the truths of faith, the need for sacramental life, the promise of Christ’s continual assistance to His Church. You cannot be faithful to our Lord if you neglect these supernatural demands—to receive instruction in Christian faith and morality and to frequent the Sacraments. It is with this mandate that Christ founded His Church [...]. And the Church can bring salvation to souls only if she remains faithful to Christ in her constitution and teaching, both dogmatic and moral.
“Let us reject, therefore, the suggestion that the Church, ignoring the Sermon on the Mount, seeks a purely human happiness on earth, since we know that her only task is to bring men to eternal glory in Heaven. Let us reject any purely naturalistic view that fails to value the supernatural role of divine grace. Let us reject materialistic opinions that exclude spiritual values from human life. Let us equally reject any secularizing theory which attempts to equate the aims of the Church with those of earthly states, distorting its essence, institutions and activities into something similar to those of temporal society” ([St] J. Escriva, “In Love with the Church”, 23 and 31).
18. The Fathers of the Church see in this verse a reference to the three persons of the Holy Trinity: the Spirit (the Holy Spirit) of the Lord (the Father) is upon Me (the Son); cf. Origen, “Homily 32”. The Holy Spirit dwelt in Christ’s soul from the very moment of the Incarnation and descended visibly upon Him in the form of a dove when He was baptized by John (cf. Luke 3:21-22).
“Because He has anointed Me”: this is a reference to the anointing Jesus received at the moment of His Incarnation, principally through the grace of the hypostatic union. “This anointing of Jesus Christ was not an anointing of the body as in the case of the ancient kings, priests and prophets; rather it was entirely spiritual and divine, because the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him substantially” (”St. Pius X Catechism”, 77). From this hypostatic union the fullness of all graces derives. To show this, Jesus Christ is said to have been anointed by the Holy Spirit Himself—not just to have received the graces and gifts of the Spirit, like the saints.
19. “The acceptable year”: this is a reference to the jubilee year of the Jews, which the Law of God (Leviticus 25:8) lays down as occurring every fifty years, symbolizing the era of redemption and liberation which the Messiah would usher in. The era inaugurated by Christ, the era of the New Law extending to the end of the world, is “the acceptable year”, the time of mercy and redemption, which will be obtained definitively in Heaven.
The Catholic Church’s custom of the “Holy Year” is also designed to proclaim and remind people of the redemption brought by Christ, and of the full form it will take in the future life.
20-22. Christ’s words in verse 21 show us the authenticity with which He preached and explained the Scriptures: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus teaches that this prophecy, like the other main prophecies in the Old Testament, refers to Him and finds its fulfillment in Him (cf. Luke 24:44ff). Thus, the Old Testament can be rightly understood only in the light of the Newas the risen Christ showed the Apostles when He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (cf. Luke 24:45), an understanding which the Holy Spirit perfected on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:4).
22-29. At first the people of Nazareth listened readily to the wisdom of Jesus’ words. But they were very superficial; in their narrow-minded pride they felt hurt that Jesus, their fellow-townsman, had not worked in Nazareth the wonders He had worked elsewhere. They presume they have a special entitlement and they insolently demand that He perform miracles to satisfy their vanity, not to change their hearts. In view of their attitude, Jesus performs no miracle (His normal response to lack of faith: cf., for example, His meeting with Herod in Luke 23:7-11); He actually reproaches them, using two examples taken from the Old Testament (cf. 1 Kings 17:9 and 2 Kings 5:14), which show that one needs to be well-disposed if miracles are to lead to faith. His attitude so wounds their pride that they are ready to kill Him. This whole episode is a good lesson about understanding Jesus. We can understand Him only if we are humble and are genuinely resolved to make ourselves available to Him.