Second Sunday of the Year

The Chosen One of God.
It is perhaps one of the great unanswered questions: Can we ever know what was in the mind of Jesus? How did he understand what he was undertaking? The Church has of course contemplated this question for over two thousand years, and from the very outset has recognised that Jesus, as the gospel tells us, grew in wisdom and God’s favour. So naturally his mind matured and developed, and as he was taught and as he learnt about his faith, his appreciation of his calling would have become clear in his mind and in his heart. All the things which his parents and his wider family would have taught him about God, about love, about the Law, about the history of the Jewish people, would have made him think deeply. And perhaps the context for his thinking and thereby for under- standing his relationship with God, would have come through his prayer.
It is clear that in the gospel Jesus uses prayer as the context for so many of the important and significant moments in his life and it is also clear that the source of his prayer is often the book of psalms. Consequently it should be of great comfort to us, to know that as we recite the psalms in our own daily prayer, we are speaking the same words which Jesus him- self would have spoken and sung. But a clue to his own thinking may be found in the moment when he came to his hometown of Nazareth and stood up in the pulpit in front of his family and friends, and deliberately chose to read from the prophet Isaiah, about the mission of a prophet. As he read out the words: to bring the good news to the poor, to soothe the broken hearted and to liberate captives, he was applying them to himself. And since in its sentiment, the passage also resonates with the calling of the Servant of the Lord, the task of which Isaiah had earlier laid out in the starkest of terms, and which our first reading today recalls, can we surmise that this moment was a seminal one for Jesus? Is it possible then to say that at this point, following his baptism and his testing in the wilder- ness, his own knowledge concerning how he was to take on his mission became clear to him? Are we able to conclude that as a consequence, he understood just how this vision of the servant of the Lord as described by Isaiah, was deeply embedded in his mind? Of course we can only speculate, but for John, who had baptised him, he was the Chosen One of God, the Lamb of God, who comes to take away the sin of the world.
In our own minds and hearts, we look for understanding as to how we are to carry out the tasks that God has given us to do. Our model for discern- ing this must come through our relationship with Jesus, and through him, with the Father. It is to be explored through our own prayer life, and it is to find its expression in the way we live. If we, who are called to take on the mission of the prophet, do so by living our lives as bearers of good news, and by sharing the gospel of God’s love and mercy, then we will fulfil our task, sharing as we do, in the mission of Jesus, to be a light to the nations so that God’s salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

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