Please press here to listen to the homily or download
Thursday after Epiphany – Christmas
Readings: I Jn 4:19-5:4; Lk 4:14-22.
1/ First Reading: NAB 1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the father loves (also) the one begotten by him. 2 In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 4 for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
2/ Gospel: NAB Luke 4:14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. 15 He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. 16 He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read 17 and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” 20 Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. 21 He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, OP.
I. THEME: To love God is to do His will.
Today readings center around the main theme: one must express his love for God by concrete actions. In the first reading, St. John taught that since God first loves us, we must express our love for Him by loving others. Whoever said he loves God and doesn’t love his brothers is a liar. In the Gospel, Jesus began his public ministry in synagogues so that people might know him. When he return to Nazareth, his grown-up place, he also entered the synagogue there. It happened that people were reading the Book of Isaiah, chapter 61, talking about the year of Jubilee. He let people in the synagogue know he is the one whom the prophet mentioned. He came to do God’s will and liberate people from darkness of sins.
1/ Reading I: To love God is to keep His commandments.
The author’s two main ideas in this passage are: first, Christ was sent from the Father; and secondly, the faithful must keep the commandment of love. We mentioned these two ideas in the previous homilies. Today, we only pay attention to the new perspectives of them.
1.1/ To love God is to love Jesus Christ: St. John explained, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the father loves (also) the one begotten by him.” In his Gospel, he explained more clearly: “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name” (Jn 1:12). The faithful become God’s children by confessing that Christ is the Son of God. If they love Father, they must also love Christ, His Son, whom was begotten by Him. The new perspective here is that St. John came from “believing” to “loving” Christ.
1.2/ To love God is to keep His commandments: He said, “In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments.For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.”
(1) To love God is to love others: St. John said in v. 21, “This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” As said above, when one believes in Christ, he also loves him. His love for Christ shall urge him to keep all Christ’s commandments, as Jesus said in John’s gospel, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). But the most important commandment which Jesus commanded is the commandment of love, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34).
(2) To love God and to hate one’s brother is a liar: St. John said, “If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” This sentence is the antithesis of the above sentence: when one loves God, one has the Trinity’s love in him. When one has God’s love, one must keep the commandment of love. Therefore, if one says that one loves God and doesn’t keep the commandment of love- by hating others, one is a liar because he doesn’t have God’s love in him and still says he has it. In short, one must have God’s love before one can love others and to love others is the proof that one has God’s love.
2/ Gospel: Jesus fulfills his Father’s will.
2.1/ Jesus preached in the synagogues: Lucas’ today passage happened right after the event which Jesus was tempted in the desert and began his public ministry. Jesus chose Galilee as the starting point of his ministry because it is populated area and the people are opening for new teachings, not so conservative as people in Judah region. The Jews only have one temple in Jerusalem, but synagogues are the religious centers for local people. According to their law, wherever has ten families and up, that place must have a synagogue. Therefore, almost every village or city, there exists at least one synagogue for people to learn Scripture and to worship. The Jewish liturgy has three main parts:
(1) The liturgy of prayers
(2) The reading of Scripture: There are seven people in the community to read. They read in Hebrew language but are translated to Aramaic or Greek languages, because not many people can understand Hebrew at Jesus’ time. If it is the Book of Law, they read every sentence one time. If it is the Prophetic Book, they read three sentences at one time.
(3) The teaching: It doesn’t belong to Rabbi. The head of the synagogue can invite anyone in the synagogue to share his thoughts and to lead the conversation after that. This is the reason why Jesus had a chance to preach to people and was known by them.
2.2/ Jesus preached at Nazareth, his grown-up place: “He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to readand was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:”The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
This is the passage taken from Isaiah, chapter 61, talking about the Jubilee year which happens every fifty years. In this year, all debts are forgiven; all sold lands are returned to former owners, all prisoners are set free or reduced their sentences. In short, the reason why they have this year is for everyone to have an opportunity to start anew (cf. Lev 25).
“Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.”
Jesus said to people in the synagogue that he is the one whom the prophet Isaiah predicted. The Holy Spirit descended and anointed him when he was baptized by John Baptist in Jordan river; and today, he begins his given mission. Jesus concerns about how to set free people from darkness and captive by sins more than from material poor because it is more important; and the grace of the Jubilee year is the salvation which he is going to bestow on human beings.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– If we love God, we must practice what He commands because these commandments help us to remain in Him, and not to be far away from His love.
– To love God is to concern with His concern which is to help people to recognize and to love Him so that all shall enjoy His salvation.
– All of us have a duty to work with the Church in missionary field so that she might have more people to believe in God everyday.