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Reflections on the Sunday lectionary readings

Mission possible

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10  •  Psalm 19  •  1 Corinthians 12:12-31a  •  Luke 4:14-21

Here Jesus, like Ezra, reads scripture to tell the crowd who he is and where he stands. It would be a useful exercise, perhaps, for each of us to select a passage from scripture or another source that might become one's mission statement for daily life. Regardless of whether one can announce it from a pulpit, every person has daily opportunity to articulate and live out a purpose, in small and large ways. Getting clear about it can serve as an antidote to the overwhelming number of options and indecisiveness which may otherwise mark our days.

What Jesus announced as his mission is also instructive. Good news for the poor, recovery of sight for the blind, setting captives free: Jesus accomplished all of these, ministering to both the physical and the emotional dimensions of the human experience. In addition to those who experience poverty, many of us feel impoverished or fear impoverishment, having a mindset of a competitive struggle among humans over insufficient resources; Jesus taught good news of a kingdom of abundance for all. Many of us are blind to what is happening around us, preferring to blame others and absolve ourselves of responsibility; Jesus taught about repentance, beginning with one's self. Many of us are captives of our own peculiar narratives; Jesus taught that the truth would set us free. It takes courage to recognize one's own complicit participation in poverty, blindness, and captivity. It takes wisdom to see that when Jesus announced his mission, he was not talking about others, 'the truly needy,' as some might call it. He was talking about each and every one of us and our emotional, if not physical, brokenness. This brokenness may interfere with one's life mission; sometimes the detours of life allow the brokenness to be discovered and healing begun. One may experience an ever deepening awareness of oneself as absolutely dependent on God in accomplishing one's purpose in life.

To ponder: How would I describe my mission? How is it at work in my daily life? In my life today, where do I need to see more clearly?

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