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.”…[T]he eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Saint Alphonsus referenced this passage from Luke 4 on November 9, 1732, at the founding of the Redemptorist Congregation. It’s bold. Some might call it Jesus’ mission statement. It’s why he exists and what his preaching and teaching are to accomplish. Jesus rubbed shoulders with men and women in their physical, economic, and spiritual conditions. His message of a year of favor from the Lord raised up the poor and most abandoned—made them equal to other people in the eyes of Jesus.
Jesus’ words focus on what’s central to God’s plan for all people. When people live in terrible conditions, God’s heart aches. But it’s not enough just to name their plight. To bring health and liberation to people enslaved by forces that stifle growth, intervention is needed. The God of Jesus Christ does not remain idle—that’s why Jesus was in the synagogue that day.
Jesus’ Spirit was given to the Church at Pentecost, so the Church can be confident that when it speaks and acts in Jesus’ name it’s being faithful to his mission. The Church is God’s gift to us, a gift we’re to use to save the world. When the Church forgives sins, people build trust. When it blesses lives, people foster a spirit of generosity. When it works for justice and peace, people promote human dignity and cooperation.
A magazine like Liguorian plays an important role in the work of evangelization. How? It looks at the world with eyes of faith, pointing out where God’s grace is alive and bringing about the conversion of men and women. At times we must say things that aren’t comfortable or don’t square with long-held opinions. But true growth is anchored in candid analyses of how people live where God’s presence isn’t known or felt.
We were given life to promote life. Jesus’ mission statement is our mission statement. Jesus’ way is our way.