The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn . . . As the earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, So will the Lord GOD make justice and praise spring up before all the nations (Isaiah 61:1-2,11).
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” (Luke 4:14-21).
In the world of business, a mission statement describes the purpose of an organization. This statement is meant to reflect the essence of the organization and its goals. As we begin this new year, let us look at the mission of Jesus our Lord, and make his mission ours in 2009. Perhaps, the best description of Jesus’ mission is given in the prophecy in Isaiah 61:1-2, and repeated by Jesus in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:18-19). It is more than likely that in giving the prophecy in Isaiah, the prophet had no idea that he was presenting a mission statement for Jesus. But there really is no more concise picture of what he came to do for us.
How many times did Jesus bring glad tidings to the lowly? Think of the comfort he gave to the woman at the well (John 4:4-26). How many times did he heal the brokenhearted? Think of the widow of Nain, whose son Jesus brought back to life (Luke 7:11-16). What of the multitudes he liberated from sin and sickness-and not just in first-century Israel, but also for the last 2000 years? We have all been touched by Jesus and the good news he proclaimed.
But as previously mentioned, there’s something more here. We need to see Jesus’ mission statement as ours as well. We are called to bring the “glad tidings” of God’s love to the world. We are called to care for the brokenhearted and to tell people that the favor of the Lord is for everyone (Isaiah 61:1-2). Remember: Jesus didn’t come just to lift us up. He also came to show us how to live and how to touch others with his love.
Every day we have opportunities to proclaim what Jesus is doing among us. Every day we are invited to take a stand about Jesus and his gospel: Does he really heal? Is he capable of clearing the sin out of our lives? Does his word have authority over us? It’s up to us to decide if we will join the triumphal procession of saints in acknowledging Jesus as Savior and Redeemer. It’s up to us to decide whether we will declare confidently what we see and hear Jesus doing.
What’s the best way to get ourselves in a position where we are comfortable in fulfilling Jesus’ mission? By letting him do more and more in our own lives, so that we will never lack for stories about his goodness. Perhaps someone has hurt you. Open that area up to Jesus, and ask him to heal the wound. Maybe there’s a Scripture passage or an area of church teaching you don’t understand. Ask Jesus to open your eyes (and heart) to understand it. Or possibly there’s a pattern of sin that you limp along with. Jesus is eager to strengthen and deliver you. Just ask him! As you surrender more of your life to Jesus, he will prove his authority and demonstrate his power to you-and through you to those around you.
Throughout 2009, let’s re-visit our “mission statement” and take time to evaluate our progress-just as businesses evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses from time to time. Let’s ask ourselves how we are doing at fulfilling our mission? Have we been working to bring glad tidings to people? If so, then thank the Lord, and tell him that you want to go even further.
Imagine the grace and peace that can flow from every act of kindness, every word of encouragement, and every work of service you do. It won’t take long before “justice and praise” spring up wherever you go (Isaiah 61:11)!
“Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Savior. I accept your authority, and I want to see you work in my life today. Lord, make me into your witness. Give me your heart of compassion for the lost, broken, and poor. I want to fulfill the mission you have called me to. With you, all things are possible.”
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us for allowing us to adapt material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- 1. Both the prophetic words in Isaiah 61:1, and the words of Jesus in the Nazareth synagogue, begin with the same words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” Why were these words important to Jesus, and why are they important to us, in fulfilling his mission?
- 2. The article challenges us with these words: “We need to see Jesus’ mission statement as ours as well. We are called to bring the “glad tidings” of God’s love to the world. We are called to care for the brokenhearted and to tell people that the favor of the Lord is for everyone (Isaiah 61:1-2). Remember: Jesus didn’t come just to lift us up. He also came to show us how to live and how to touch others with his love.” How well are you doing? What steps can you take to make Jesus’ mission a greater part of your mission?
- 3. The article goes on to give us examples of how we can take part in fulfilling Jesus’ mission every day. Which of those given can you embrace now?
- 4. During 2009, in what way are you willing to commit to evaluating how you are doing in making Jesus’ mission your mission?
- 5. If you are in a men’s group, end your meeting by praying that each of you would take on the mind of Christ in fulfilling his mission. Use the prayer at end of the article as the starting point.