Maybe, (as I have known occasionally), there have been moments in your life when you have had an “awakening”, an “experience” that has led to real insight. An “incident”, a “conversation” where a new revelation has been opened up for you. In short an “epiphany”.
One “epiphany” of sorts I experienced a number of years ago was witnessing my then 12 year old son whizz past me down a French ski slope and shout “Hurry up Dad! You are too slow!”
And I had a moment of real clarity.
He was correct. I was getting older (slower) and in so many ways this wee fella shooting past me on his ski’s, who had overtaken me on a French mountain; in many ways would continue to overtake me.
It’s not that we always seek to have an epiphany. The truth can hurt sometimes. A new realization calls for change and that can be uncomfortable.
As you read this Sunday’s Gospel reading however and picture Christ in His home Synagogue reading from the book of Isaiah, what insight, what truth was this epiphany revealing?
And to whom?
The Gospel reading.
To Set the Burdened Free
14-15 Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit. News that he was back spread through the countryside. He taught in their meeting places to everyone’s acclaim and pleasure.
16-21 He came to Nazareth where he had been raised. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,
God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s time to shine!”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”
I will be very, very honest. If one of my school friends from Primary school and Secondary school, who I had known from many many encounters in my home village, a friend, someone with whom many memories of growing up were shared…I am not at all sure how well I might have reacted to them speaking publicly…
That it was their mission, their job as such…
“..to preach the Message of Good news”,
“…to the poor”.
To, “pardon the prisoners”, to help the blind “recover sight”.
To set the “burdened and the battered free”. And.
To tell us that now, this year, was the time to get on with this work.
I, for one would have a number of questions to ask. What you? Really? Is your “head cut?”
Its no wonder that those watching Christ read from the Scriptures and hear Him proclaim “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.” are less than impressed.
Who is this guy? Is he not Joseph’s son? (Luke 4 v 22).
Christ’s deliberate choosing of these readings from the book of Isaiah was entirely His revelation of God made flesh. His revelation, our “Epiphany”.
Epiphany. An awakening. A sudden awareness. A light going on and not just a light bulb moment.
Epiphany. A light going on that makes those experiencing it uncomfortable. Truth being revealed. Change and a response required.
Epiphany. A light going on that sets the prisoner free and tackles the causes facing those in poverty. That heals the blind. That lifts burdens and protects those battered.
Epiphany. For humanity, we Christians understand in the carpenter’s son announcing His manifesto to a needy world.
Epiphany. That in Christ, through our own moments of insight and awareness and change…His grace and love becomes real.