It was Shabbat in Nazareth and, as was his habit, Jesus went to the synagogue. The leader of the synagogue gave him the scroll of Isaiah to read from to the gathered congregation. He found the passage from, what we now call chapter 61:1, and he read:

“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 year to act!” Luke 4:18 (The Message)

Every eye in the place was turned to him expecting some insight into the mind of God. That day they got more than they bargained for. Everyone admired and revered the Prophets but no one expected that their words would be fulfilled in their life time. Their shock, at Jesus’ words, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.” would have made the room all the more silent. Accepting the fulfilment of God’s words, spoken through Isaiah so many years before, there, in this back water town on the banks of the Galilee, would not have resonated with their religion. Their small expectations of God were being challenged by the big picture of Jesus’ words.

Anyone remember the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign ( http://www.makepovertyhistory.org ), which had its most visible year in 2005? It still goes on because, despite all the grand promises of world leaders and the mobilisation of tens of thousands of supporters, poverty is still not history! Did we fail, well no. Those of us who supported MPH and wore our white bands, went out on the streets to solicit support and signatures, and lobbied parliament and the G8 (as it was then) continued the work of Christ. When Jesus spoke of the fulfilment of Isaiah’s words, all those years ago in the Synagogue at Nazareth he challenged, not only the congregation, but the whole world to respond. The silence continues in the hearts of many but in our hearts, those who hear Jesus’ words and know the work of the Holy Spirit, to eliminate poverty and set humanity free, the fulfilment of those words continue today.

Lord of the poor, the dispossessed and oppressed, poor out your Spirit into our hearts today. Let our voice continue to speak of the fulfilment of your will in Jesus and let your people not be silent but speak up for those who have no voice. Amen

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