1 John 4:19-5:4
"Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
Jesus developed a good reputation as a guest preacher at local synagogues." He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all." Now, Jesus enters the synagogue of his home town of Nazareth. He is given the scriptures and read from the Book of Isaiah. Those listening to Jesus were economically poor and politically disenfranchised; life had not been good to them. They expectantly waited to hear how Jesus would interpret this popular passage. Maybe Jesus will speak words of exhortation to revolution and resistance. Maybe he will call for a state health care program for the citizens of Nazareth. Or a call for judicial reform so the illiterate and poor have equal access and a fair chance in the court system. Or a fair and just wage for a hard day’s work. Or maybe a guaranteed pension plan for the senior years.
But the home-boy Rabbi calls for none of these programs. With every eye riveted upon him he sits down! Isn’t Jesus going to preach, rouse their faith, call for greater commitment to the laws of God? He sits down and spoke a simple one liner, only nine words: "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." I imagine Jesus did not shout or rant, his tone was not judgmental or cynical. I can hear Jesus almost whispering, "Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
The word that is translated "fulfilled" means exactly that, "filled to the full." Pleroo is defined as: to render full, i.e. to complete, to fill to the top, so that nothing shall be wanting, to full measure, filled to the brim. It is a word that describes complete accomplishment. There is nothing for me to do here, and it drives our Western activist mind crazy! Salvation is a gift from God, the gift of the Son, not our achievement.
This does not mean no action on our part. In the first reading John tells us that if anyone loves God, that person will also love others.
Today, the scripture is fulfilled in our midst and we, too, are "amazed at the gracious words" that came from the mouth of Jesus.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.