YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
BY: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
HOMILY: Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
As followers of Jesus baptized in the same Spirit, these prophetic words apply no less to us as we make our way heavenward through a wounded world in need of our healing gifts. Allow me to share an experience where I may have been an unwitting agent of God’s healing hand.
On a Saturday morning at the hospital some years back, I sat with Gladys, a long-time psychiatric patient who was finishing up her breakfast. The dining room was nearly empty as I asked this usually feisty, irritable old woman if I might join her at the table. Receiving an affirmative answer that was quite uncharacteristic in its gentleness, I took it to be nearly an invitation as I took a seat beside her for some casual chatter.
In the midst of pleasant banter, I noticed her struggling to open the lid of a container of peach yogurt. Her arthritic fingers no match for the sealed foil that separated her from the contents, I offered to assist, pulling the yogurt container toward me so I could get a grip on the seal. A sudden return of her former feistiness, though, turned the simple operation into a tug of war as I pulled at the seal while she squeezed the container’s base in a desperate attempt to lay rightful claim to what lay within.
The resulting volcano of peach yogurt should have come as no surprise. Within seconds, what had erupted from the container covered my head, rolled down my glasses, speckled my shirt and jacket and left Gladys thundering with laughter so loud that staff members came running from both ends of the corridor to see what the commotion was about. Trying desperately to suppress giggles at the sight, the four nurses and attendants who came running tossed me a pile of towels to make the best of cleaning myself up.
As I wiped away the peachy slime, the charge nurse leaned over to cheer me on in quiet words, “You know, Gladys hasn’t laughed like that since she’s been here. Thank you. She needed that.” Weakly acknowledging the nurse’s gratitude, I vowed to keep a healthy distance from Gladys on future visits, no matter how amenable she seemed to be. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Jesus read these words from the prophet Isaiah when He stood in the synagogue before the religious leaders of his day. Now He passes these same words along to us that in our day we might be hope for the downcast, freedom for those held captive, healing for the suffering, and at all times bearers of the good news that God lives among us.
Indeed, God does live vibrantly and mysteriously among us even when we may serve as a target for a hurled container of yogurt. For God lives wherever life, love and joyful laughter abound.