The Gospel of today continues the Sermon on the Plain. The challenge is to love differently from what is the normal way of loving. The world invites people to love those who love them and to repay evil for evil. However, Jesus invites his disciples to act differently. They are to use goodness of heart to overcome evil in the world and in their lives because they have seen the example of God himself. Jesus shows that love is revolutionary and can turn the world upside down.
In Lk 6:12-16, Jesus spent a full night in prayer and then called twelve men from among his disciples, whom he called ‘apostles’, the sent ones. Luke will use the title apostle only for those twelve chosen ones. Together with the other disciples they are the ones who hear the Great Sermon of Jesus on the Plain (Lk 6:17:7:1) which we start reading today. In his teaching Jesus shows where true happiness lies and warns that those who are trying to be sons and daughters of God often miss it. The standards of the world are not those of God. Jesus’ way of looking at life turns upside down our usual ideas and values.
Today’s Gospel follows the experience of Jesus in Nazareth that we read the past two Sundays. There he was first admired but later on rejected by his people (Lk 4:16-30). After some healing in Capernaum (Lk $:31-41) he prays in a lonely place (Lk 4:4243). Jesus comes back to the shores of Lake Gennesaret to teach a crowd eager to hear his word. Peter, James and John are invited to actually follow him. They leave their work and their family and friends to walk with him. Jesus teaches, challenges and calls the whole crowd. All listen eagerly but only some will be invited to follow him more closely.
Two selections from the two different chapters have been put together in today’s Gospel. The first is from the introduction to the entire Gospel (Lk 1:1-4) where Luke says for whom he is writing the Gospel, how he wrote it and why he wrote it. The second part is taken from the first public appearance of Jesus in his home village, Nazareth (Lk 4:14-21). He reads a passage from the book of the prophet Isaiah (Is 61:1-2) to tell them what his mission is about. He declares that the words are fulfilled todays in his person.
Last Sunday we read the Baptism of Jesus. Jesus has began his public ministry and will start teaching very soon. According to the tradition he is about thirty years old at this time. In today’s Gospel we see one of the first miracles he does. Jesus is invited to a wedding with his disciple and it is there that he works his first miracle. Jesus is present at the wedding with his mother also and she is the one who invites him to help the newlywed couple. The miracle is possible because the servants obey the command of Jesus.
Today’s Gospel is about the baptism of Jesus. Luke does not describe how the baptism actually happened. He does not even say who baptized Jesus. What Luke brings out in his Gospel is the effect of this baptism. There is a new experience of God and of the Spiritual as Jesus is at prayer. Jesus is empowered to carry out his Mission.
The Gospel of Matthew that we read today allows us to see another interpretation of the meaning of the birth of Jesus for his own people and the rest of the non-Jewish world. Wise men came from very far to see the child and bring him precious gifts while the political and religious authorities of Israel are afraid and refuse to welcome him. They feel threatened and seek to eliminate him. Jesus is indeed a Messiah-King but the does not correspond to the Messiah-King his people were expecting and be experiences his first rejection
The Gospel of today celebrates the event for which we have been preparing ourselves since the first Sunday of Advent, namely the birth of Jesus. Luke situates it during the rule of Emperor Augustus. Joseph and Mary are obliged to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for a census. Jesus is born while they are in Bethlehem and this good news is announced first to the shepherds.