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Holy Thursday (Chrism Mass)
Jesus 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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, quiet my heart. As I pause and take some time to read your word and sit in your presence, open my ears to anything you may want to say to me. Often I rush into prayer with my own agenda, my own lists and requests. You are the Messiah, the one who brings good tidings to the poor, proclaims liberty to captives, and heals the blind and oppressed. May I see my own poverty, my own captivity to bad habits and sin, my own blindness and oppression. I know you want everything that is good for me. Open my heart, my ears, and my eyes to you.
- A Humble Stage: Jesus was born in a stable far from the place his parents called home. No one expected to find the King of Kings, the long-awaited Messiah, laying in an animals’ feeding trough. He chose extremely humble circumstances to become incarnate. Similarly, when he declared that he was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy–in essence, publicly declaring himself the Messiah–he did not choose a grand venue. He did not go to the Temple in Jerusalem. Rather, he chose the simple, small, local synagogue in his parent’s hometown. He is the greatest King who ever lived, yet he began his public life in the most humble of circumstances.
- God’s Perfect Plan: When Jesus stood up, the scroll he was given to read had been chosen for him by Providence before time began. In those lines of Scripture, the prophet Isaiah was heralding the beginning of the Galilean ministry by predictions made long ago that Jesus would proclaim liberty to captives and heal the blind, bring good tidings to the poor, and heal those oppressed by pain, leprosy, sin, and blindness. In the exact moment God ordained, his Son was to reveal his identity to those with “ears to hear” (Mark 4:9). We can draw great consolation by meditating on God’s Divine Providence as revealed through this passage. In the words of St. Edith Stein, “Things were in God’s plan which I had not planned at all. I am coming to the living faith and conviction that–from God’s point of view–there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God’s divine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God’s all-seeing eyes.”
- Fulfilled in Your Hearing: Can you imagine this moment? Here was Jesus, a young man whose father and mother were well known to the attendees in this small synagogue. The story of their hasty marriage was doubtless the cause of gossip years ago. Some may have been remembering the prophecy about the virgin birth. Possibly many recalled the time when Jesus went missing in the temple as a youth. Word may have spread about his recent baptism in the river Jordan. His father, Joseph, they knew, was a descendant of David. Realization may have been dawning on some present that the Messiah was in their midst. Then Jesus spoke these words: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Here in these familiar surroundings, on this ordinary day of worship, these people were among the first witnesses to the earth-shattering news that the Messiah they had awaited had finally arrived.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, your timing is always perfect. Even when I do not understand why things are happening in my life, I know that your will is always for my greatest good. I give thanks to you for coming to the world as a man, not to condemn us, but to save us. Father, open my heart in awe and thanksgiving for the gift of the Messiah and Savior.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray a decade of the Rosary, meditating on the joyful mystery, The Finding of Jesus in the Temple.
For Further Reflection: Jesus Fulfills Old Testament Messianic Prophecies.
Cathy Stamper lives in Maryland with her husband, Mike. They have been partners in business, marriage, and parenthood for over thirty-one years. She enjoys reading, daily Mass, the beach, exercise, and time spent with her five young adult children, large extended family, and friends. Cathy is a lay member of Regnum Christi, an occasional speaker at women’s retreats, and an active member of her parish and Walking With Purpose.