Happy New Year!

Isaiah 61:1-2
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.

It was with this passage of Scripture that Jesus chose to announce His advent to the world in the synagogue at Nazareth. Jesus, upon reading this aloud, declared “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” It is an odd thing to say and struck the hearers as such. Jesus had not, as yet, given any good tidings, bound up any brokenhearted, proclaimed any liberty, opened any prisons, wrought any vengeance, nor comforted any mourners. He had lived for thirty years in Nazareth, doing manual labor, quietly going to synagogue, and living a life largely undistinguishable from His neighbors. More recently, He had wandered off to be baptized by John. What had come over Him? His neighbors wondered. The answer was there in the Scripture: The Spirit of the Lord was upon Him (as He had always been). Jesus was announcing that He — He Himself — was New Year’s Day incarnate and that all the joyous revolutions, fresh beginnings, new hopes, and glorious second chances there ever were or ever will be were all summed up in Him. He went on to prove it in a big way, but the seed of it was not in the deeds He did, but in the Spirit who empowered the deeds!

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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  • The only present tense predicate in the verse Jesus quoted is “The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me;” the only past tense predicate is “the LORD has anointed me.” All other clauses use infinitive verbs, indicating things yet to be done. So, for the One who said it, it was not at all odd to say. But those who heard it found it incredible. As far as they were concerned, Jesus was just a local with an irregular birth and an unremarkable life.