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He Waits for Me
Thursday after Epiphany
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. 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 and 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. 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. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, open my heart to your Spirit in this time of prayer. I wish to be with you, to hear what you would like to say. You know better than I how much I need you. Here are my distractions, my worries, and my concerns. I open this space in my heart to you, that you may fill me with yourself. I believe in you; bolster my faith. I put all my hope in your unfailing goodness. And I love you. Enter the synagogue of my heart now, as you entered that synagogue of Nazareth. May I receive the word you want to share with me today.
- Returning to Galilee: In this passage, Jesus “returned” to Galilee. His public ministry had started, he was forming his followers, and he had even begun to perform his first miracles. Imagine him entering his hometown synagogue: people started to recognize him; there was a growing anticipation in the air. Some noticed the familiar sound of his footsteps; another recognized his hands, calloused and strong. Others whispered the local gossip: hearsay that these carpenter’s hands had become a miracle worker’s hands—but that couldn’t be. Perhaps he would clear up their doubts and set things straight. As Jesus got up to read, the anticipation grew. There was anticipation in Christ’s heart, too. For years he had carried out his Father’s will silently and humbly among his neighbors and family in Nazareth. Now that plan was to take a new shape. He once built tables and chairs; now he was building his Father’s kingdom. Would they listen? Would they receive his word? Would this homecoming be a coming home, after all? But no—the Son of Man had no place to lay his head. This same Jesus comes to my heart in this prayer and throughout my day. There is this same anticipation in his heart for us. What will he find as he speaks to my heart?
- …Because He Has Anointed Me: Christ deliberately chose this passage. Nothing he did was pointless or thoughtless. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” Every other time these words had been read, it had been a prophecy. Today, the one about whom they prophesied spoke to them, and these words too became flesh in the Word become Flesh. He spoke not just as the Jesus of Nazareth his neighbors knew, but as the Lamb of God who takes upon himself the sins of the world. He brought glad tidings to the poor by entering the greatest human poverty. Not even the poorest can say he is alone, for no poverty has been untouched by Christ. He came to let the oppressed go free by taking the crossbeams of all oppression upon his back, and so he won for us a redemption which cannot be unmade. This is why he came into the world. This is why he comes into my world. And what does he find in my interior? To what poverty, scarcity, or even emptiness inside me does he wish to bring glad tidings? What oppression in my own life does he wish to lift from my shoulders to place on his own? What space in my interior is held captive that he wishes to liberate? What blindness does he want to return to sight, if only I open it to him and humbly welcome him? This is why he comes to me today. This is why he wishes to reach others through me today, too. And still, he waits in anticipation for an answer.
- Anticipation and Receptivity: All eyes in the synagogue looked upon him. He did not ask if they wanted to hear; he did not even ask if they understood. He simply spoke. And he speaks now, to me: “Today, I wish to bring you joy, freedom, sight, redemption.” The gift is offered, but will it be received? He can work many miracles and offer eternal life, but he does not control the response. Respectfully, he waits to hear our answer.
Conversing with Christ: You speak these words to me, Jesus. Will I simply marvel at the gracious son of Joseph, or can I open my heart to recognize you as God of my life and my world today, to accept the great love you offer me and wish to give to others through me? Perhaps you see the hesitation in my heart, Jesus. I know acutely that I am not worthy, that I will fall behind again. Maybe it’s easier just to keep the door altogether shut than to let you see the mess I’m afraid you will find. Speak to my hesitation, speak to my resistance. You remind me, Jesus, that you have never waited for me to be worthy of your love. You wait for me to be receptive. In spite of my difficulties, Lord, I tell you today: “I wish to receive you into my heart.” Come with your freedom, your glad tidings, and sight. Enter my life and claim it as your home.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to open my heart to your action and invitation and will ask myself at the end of the day, “When was I able to do so?”
For Further Reflection: Brother Charles of Jesus (Blessed Charles de Foucauld) wrote a beautiful prayer of abandonment to God. Perhaps these words will deepen your prayer of receptivity before God.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families she’s there to serve.