Today the Scripture is Fulfilled

27 January 2019 – Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Luke 4:14-21

The selection [gives] Luke’s account of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in the synagogues in Galilee, where he was “praised by everyone” (4:15). . . . Although the account follows Mark’s story, this episode is far more elaborate in Luke. Whether Luke derived the details with which he expanded his report from an existing resource or composed them himself is debated. Joseph A. Fitzmyer observed that this narrative allows Luke to introduce Jesus’ ministry by offering “in capsule form the theme of fulfillment and symbolize the rejection that will mark the ministry as a whole” (The Gospel According to Luke I–IX [Doubleday, 1981], 71).

. . . Today’s selection tells of Jesus at the synagogue on a Sabbath in Nazareth, where he reads a scroll that Luke cites as Isaiah 61:1–2; (4:16–19). . . Luke clearly senses this vision fulfilled in Jesus when he claims that Jesus concludes the reading by stating that “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (4:21).

Here we sense that Luke’s Jesus is aware of his empowerment by the Spirit that descended upon him at his baptism (3:22). While today’s selection allows for the community to celebrate its understanding of Jesus as one who fulfilled messianic prophecy, preachers need to recognize that fulfillment is a secondary post-Easter interpretation that has led the church into the ideology of supersessionism that is rejected by Catholics and all mainline denominations today. –– Regina Boisclair

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

Ezra was a priest and scribe who enforced the dissolution of mixed marriages between Israelites and foreign women (Ezra 9—10) and . . . read a book of the law in Jerusalem (Neh 7:73—9:37). The latter is reported in this selection. This episode clearly associates Ezra with the identification of texts as sacred. It bears witness to the idea of a sacred text given by God that gained prominence early in the postexilic era (c. 400 B.C.E.) Today, most scholars sense that what Ezra may have promulgated was some rendition of Deuteronomy.

Dating this event on the first of Tishri (Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year) underscores the idea that something new is taking place. –– Regina Boisclair

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Paul provides an analogy between the various gifts distributed among members of the community and the various distinct parts and functions of the human body that complement one another (vv 14–20). Thus, the gifted community (vv 28–30) is the body of Christ (v 27). Paul insists that no one has all the gifts and acknowledges that there are differences among members just as there are differences in the human body. However, he insists that the one Spirit has made the members of the community one and has called each to care equally for all.

Although Paul stresses the unity of the community, he does not consider all equal. . . Stressing that none have all charisms he calls all to seek the greater gifts that will identify those that build up the body. –– Regina Boisclair

Regina Boisclair, a Roman Catholic biblical scholar, teaches at Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, Alaska.

Homily Service 40, no. 2 (2007): 46-56

David Turnbloom