3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

SOURCE: Larry Broding

In Brief

Our Sunday Visitor

  • In the introduction to this Gospel, Luke suggests that he knows of other Gospel accounts.
  • The story of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry follows Luke’s introduction.
  • Today’s passage highlights compassion and liberation as the theme of Jesus’ ministry and concern for the weakest members of society the mark of his identity as Messiah.

Cross References

OT: Lev 25: 8–55; 1 Kings 17: 8–24; 2 Kings 5: 1–15; Isa 58: 6; 61: 1–2
NT: Luke 3: 22–23; James 5: 17. // Matt 4: 12; 13: 54–58; Mark 1: 14; 6: 1–6; John 4: 43–44

SOURCE: The Gospel of Luke (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) by Pablo T. Gadenz

First Reading Connection

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: In our First Reading and the Gospel Reading, both the 6th century BC priestly scholar of the Law, Ezra, and Jesus in the first century AD stand up before the assembly of the covenant people to read the word of God from Sacred Scripture.  After the reading, both Ezra and Jesus interpret the Scriptures for the people of God who were present so they could understand God’s message.

The events in the First Reading prepare us for the Gospel reading where Jesus has come to His hometown at Nazareth to worship in the local Synagogue.  He reads the word of God from the book of the prophet Isaiah to the congregation and interprets the passage by announcing to the body of assembled believers that He is the promised Messiah who has come to liberate His people from the curse of sin and death.  It is the same announcement every Gospel Reading reveals to the Body of Christ that is the Church from the Word of God in every generation.

Prologue to Luke’s Gospel

“Many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events”

DR. KIERAN O’MAHONY, OSA Lk 1:1-4. This is a standard introduction to a typical biography of the period. Such a preface is unique among the Gospels, having its only parallel in Acts 1:1-2. There is another, resumptive introduction in Lk 3:1-2.

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: St. Luke begins the prologue to his gospel by mentioning that other gospels also record the events of Jesus’ life.  Some scholars count as many as 34 different gospels written within the first 2-3 centuries of the Church while others count more.  However, the Church has always maintained from its earliest years that only the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were Holy Spirit inspired.


“I too have decided,
after investigating everything accurately anew,
to write it down in an orderly sequence for you,
most excellent Theophilus, 
so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings
you have received.”


AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: Who was Theophilus?

  1. Some scholars suggest he was Luke’s patron who was funding the publication (handwritten) of his Gospel (and later the companion work of Acts of Apostles; see Acts 1:1).
  2. Others suggest the name of the benefactor or the man honored by the dedication is substituted by the code name “theo-philus,” in Greek, “God-lover” (and sometimes translated “friend of God”), to protect his identity.
  3. Still others suggest the name “God-lover” in the dedication refers to all believers in Christ Jesus.

Theophilus is a proper name that was commonly in use from the time of the 3rd century BC; both Greek culture Gentiles and Jews had the name (Fr. Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., The Gospel According to Luke, page 299).  There is no reason to assume Theophilus was not the name of someone Luke knew; however, theophilus, “God-lover,” also identifies the Christian readers who were contemporaries of St. Luke and all generations of Christians who continue to read his account of Jesus’ life and ministry.

SOURCE: Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Used with permission.

Power of the Spirit

“Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit”

SERMON WRITER: Luke has told us that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:35)—and that Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied of Jesus that God “has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” (Lk 1:69)—and that the Holy Spirit rested on Simeon as he held the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God for allowing him to see God’s salvation (Lk 2:27-30)—and that the Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism (Lk 3:21-22)—but he now deems it important to remind us once again that Jesus’ ministry is Spirit-powered.

FR. CLEMENT THIBODEAU: The outpouring of the Spirit continues in the Church as Christ continues to send his Spirit to create the community anew… The Spirit comes in baptism, in confirmation, in holy Eucharist, as sacraments of initiation into the life of Christ in the Church. These sacraments are the primary gateways to the grace of God for the Church and for the world which the Church serves. In and through these sacraments, the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon the members of the Church so they can be empowered to do the works of Christ in the world. These sacraments confer holiness but not primarily for the benefit of the recipient; the grace given is so that it can be given to others.

On the Sabbath

“Jesus went according to his custom into the synagogue”

SERMON WRITER: “as was his custom” (v. 16a) is a phrase pregnant with preaching possibilities. With the circumcision, purification and presentation in the temple (Lk 2:21-24) and the annual visits to the temple (Lk 2:41-51), Luke has established that Mary and Joseph were observant of Jewish religious traditions. They surely raised Jesus from infancy in the synagogue, connecting him with Jewish tradition in a way that made the synagogues a natural starting place for his ministry. Their faithfulness in raising Jesus within this tradition helped to shape the person that he was, and is an important part of our salvation history.

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY Verse 16 notes that it was “his custom” to keep the Sabbath command to worship God ( Ex 20:8-11; 31:12-17; 34:21; 35:1-3; Dt 6:12-15) by coming to the Synagogue.  Worship expressed in sacrifice took place in the Jerusalem Temple, but for those communities located too far away from the Temple for a Sabbath visit, worship through prayer and praise took place in the Synagogue and included the reading of the Sacred Scriptures with the people reflecting upon their meaning.

SOURCE: Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Used with permission.
  • SERMON WRITER: Mary and Joseph provide an excellent model for us to follow in raising our own children. Parents who bring newborn babies to worship in plastic infant carriers do a good work. They come to church against the odds, because it is not easy to get themselves, the baby, and the necessary paraphernalia ready for church. During worship, the baby will sometimes distract the mother. Parents are tempted to ask if it is worth it, but great oaks from tiny acorns grow. Parents who worship regularly give their children great faith-advantage. The baby who becomes accustomed to church in infancy is likely to enjoy strong faith as an adult.

Jesus Stands Up

He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.

DR. BRANT PITRE:  In the Jewish synagogue, there’s a system of two readings: Torah and Haftarah. Torah is always a passage from the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. That’s the first reading in the Jewish synagogue. The second reading is called haftarah and it’s some reading from another part of the bible, usually one of the prophets. So it’s “law” and “prophets”, that’s how the synagogue readings work, 1st and 2nd reading. What happens here is Jesus is given the 2nd reading to do and it’s, of course, from the prophets.



“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” 

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY “Anointed One” is the meaning of the word “Messiah” and refers to one anointed with God’s Spirit and consecrated to serve as God’s special agent, like the prophets (1 Kng 19:16), priests (Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12) and kings, like King David, “the anointed of God” (1 Sam 16:1, 12-13).  Jesus declares to the people of Nazareth that He is the chosen servant of God that Isaiah wrote about who is “anointed” with the Spirit to bring justice to the earth.

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: In saying that He was the fulfillment of the Isaiah passage, Jesus was proclaiming a “liberation” that would bring about in a “new Exodus.”  The people were expecting that the Messiah would liberate them from their oppressors (in the 1st century AD the Romans), but that was not the kind of “exodus” Jesus was bringing.  The meaning of His “new exodus” becomes clear in Luke 9:28-31

in the event of the Transfiguration: About eight days after he said this, he took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray.  While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.  And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem (emphasis added).

Good News

“to bring glad tidings to the poor…to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…”

NAVARRE BIBLE: The words of Isaiah which Christ read out on this occasion describe very graphically the reason why God has sent his Son into the world—to redeem men from sin, to liberate them from slavery to the devil and from eternal death. It is true that in the course of his public ministry Christ, in his mercy, worked many cures, cast out devils, etc. But he did not cure all the sick people in the world, nor did he eliminate all forms of distress in this life, because pain, which entered the world through sin, has a permanent redemptive value when associated with the sufferings of Christ. Therefore, Christ worked miracles not so much to release the people concerned from suffering, as to demonstrate that he had a God-given mission to bring everyone eternal redemption. [Saint Luke’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 62.]

  • SERMON WRITER: Poverty, captivity, and blindness have both physical and spiritual dimensions. It is bad to have an empty wallet, but worse to have an empty soul. Captivity is terrible, but Bonhoeffer and others have shown that it is possible to remain free in the midst of horrific confinement. Athletes and actors, struggling to free themselves from drugs, manifest true slavery. Helen Keller was blind from infancy, but her words and actions demonstrate a clear vision that sees to the very core of life…
    Whether championing human rights or providing relief funds for hurricane victims or drilling a well for the people of a primitive village or training indigenous people for ministry, the church is helping Jesus to fulfill what he identified in these verses as a core part of his mission.
  • FR. JOHN McKINNON – Being a Catholic is not so much question of sitting around passively and receiving sacraments, etc.. It is more question of knowing, from experience, the favour and graciousness of God – and moving into action from there: sharing God’s bias for the poor, not just barracking for them but standing with them and for them in their struggles for justice and greater equity; urging ourselves and others, particularly our politicians, to see beyond cultural blinkers and to be in touch really with life as it is; seeing justice, not as punishment, but reconciliation, where both victims and offenders are helped to grow, to grow up, to mature.


The Acceptable Year

“to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” 

NAVARRE BIBLE:  “The acceptable year” is a reference to the jubilee year of the Jews, which the Law of God (Lev 25:8) lays down as occurring every fifty years, symbolizing the era of redemption and liberation which the Messiah would usher in. The era inaugurated by Christ, the era of the New Law extending to the end of the world, is “the acceptable year”, the time of mercy and redemption, which will be obtained definitively in heaven. The Catholic Church’s custom of the “Holy Year” is also designed to proclaim and remind people of the redemption brought by Christ, and of the full form it will take in the future life.  [Saint Luke’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 63.]

SERMON WRITER: The acceptable year of the Lord could refer to the Jubilee year. The Torah requires Jewish people, every sabbath year, to let their land lie fallow, to forgive debts, and to free slaves (Exodus 21:1-6; 23:10-11; Deuteronomy 15:1-18). The Jubilee year is a sabbath-sabbath year—seven times seven years. The Torah requires Jewish people, in the Jubilee Year, to return ancestral lands to their historic owners (Leviticus 25:8-17). With this requirement, God showed his concern for people at the lower end of the economic spectrum. These provisions are designed to reduce the disadvantage of the poor—to insure that the wealthy cannot accumulate all the land and consolidate all of the power. It is a provision that should gladden the hearts of anyone in need, but “the year of the Lord’s favor” suggests that the opportunity is time-limited. They/we must accept grace while it is available.

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:   But what was the prophet Isaiah referring to when the passage Jesus quoted mentions proclaiming liberty in “a year acceptable to the LORD” (Is 61:1-2)?  In the seven annual sacred feasts, the covenant people relived the Exodus experience.  However, in every seventh year, called a Sabbath year, and every fiftieth year (after the seventh Sabbath year), called a Jubilee year, the Israelites were to demonstrate the same mercy and compassion God showed to them in the Exodus liberation by extending mercy to each other.  The Jubilee year was to be a “year of liberation” (see Lev 25:10).  It was understood by the people from the prophecies of Isaiah that with the coming of the Messiah that He would generate a divine jubilee of grace and restoration, dispensing justice to the poor and suffering (i.e., Is 42:1-9; 49:5-13; 50:14-16; 61:1-11).


AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:  Proclamation of the Jubilee year: Seven weeks of years shall you count—seven times seven years—so that the seven cycles amount to forty-nine years.  […].  This fiftieth year you shall make sacred by proclaiming liberty in the land for all its inhabitants (Leviticus 25:8, 10; emphasis added).

Jubilee Liberation Exodus Liberation
1.  The land would be redeemed and all land debts forgiven (Lev 25:13-17). 1.  God redeemed the “firstborn” of Israel (Ex 12:1-34) just as He redeemed all of Israel to take possession of the Promised Land.
2.  All Israelite slaves are to be freed (Lev 25:35-55). 2.  God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt (Ex 12:37-51).
3.  The land would revert to the tribal family entrusted with it (Lev 25:10, 23-34). 3.  God gave Israel stewardship of the Promised Land (Josh 3-4).

In saying that He was the fulfillment of the Isaiah passage, Jesus was proclaiming a “liberation” that would bring about in a “new Exodus.”  The people were expecting that the Messiah would liberate them from their oppressors (in the 1st century AD the Romans), but that was not the kind of “exodus” Jesus was bringing.  The meaning of His “new exodus” becomes clear in Luke 9:28-31 in the event of the Transfiguration:

About eight days after he said this, he took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray.  While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.  And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem (emphasis added).

SOURCE: Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Used with permission.

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: According to Luke 9:31, the “exodus” and “liberation” that Jesus’ was bringing was not from the Roman occupation or to free Jewish slaves.  His liberation was from slavery to sin and death, and His “exodus” was from death to resurrection.


Liberation Fulfilled in Christ
1.  The debt of the curses incurred for failing to keep the Old Covenant Law was forgiven (Lev 26:14-46; Dt 28:15-68). Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree…” (Gal 3:13).
2. He freed us from slavery to sin and death. We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin (Rom 6:6).
3. Through His death, burial, and Resurrection we received the promise of eternal life in the true Promise Land, the Kingdom of Heaven. Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you. Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:42-43).
Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2013

Jesus came not only to fulfill the prophecies of the prophets and to restore the faithful remnant of Israel, but also to extend the gift of eternal salvation to all humanity, undoing the work of Satan in the fall of our original parents, and bringing about an exodus out of sin into a new and eternal Covenant in which the indwelling of the Holy Spirit would bring about One Body in Christ in the Universal (Catholic) Church.

SOURCE: Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Used with permission.

Jesus Sits Down

Jesus Speaks

“Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

SERMON WRITER: This is one of the world’s shortest sermons, but it packs lots of punch. The people of Israel have waited for centuries for the fulfillment of promises that God made throughout their history, beginning with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). Now Jesus declares that the wait is over—that the day has come—that the promises are fulfilled—that salvation is nigh! This is indeed good news (Luke 4:43).

FR. EAMON TOBIN: Jesus is saying that he is the one filled with the Spirit as spoken by the prophet. He is the one who will inaugurate a new era of deliverance especially for the poor and oppressed. Clearly, Jesus was not going to be a political or military Messiah as the people expected.

PREACHER’S COMMENTARY: Jesus talked about God in the present tense, and that is uncomfortable. It is much more comfortable to study about God and His mighty acts or to focus upon prophecy and the Second Coming. Prophecy and theology and church history are safe. It is much riskier to open your heart to God each day to listen and to ask, “Lord, what are you telling me today?” That plunges us into the now, which is the dimension Jesus introduces here. If God is not here and now there is no God. If we have only the God of history, the God of the apocalypse, and the God of eschatology, we have no God. Jesus said today this Scripture is fulfilled. The Bible is full of “nows.” Now is the acceptable hour. This is the day the Lord hath made. [Bruce Larson and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Luke, vol. 26, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1983), 92.]

Jesus’ Ministry Foreshadowed

NAB NOTES: Luke has transposed to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry an incident from his Marcan source, which situated it near the end of the Galilean ministry (Mk 6:1–6a). In doing so, Luke turns the initial admiration (Lk 4:22) and subsequent rejection of Jesus (Lk 4:28–29) into a foreshadowing of the whole future ministry of Jesus. Moreover, the rejection of Jesus in his own hometown hints at the greater rejection of him by Israel (Acts 13:46).

DR. KIERAN O’MAHONY, OSA: [Jesus’] whole ministry in encapsulated in [a] symbolic tableau, providing the reader with essential guidance for reading the Gospel of Luke as a whole. Such a reading also helps “explain” Jesus’ inexplicable turning on the audience in 4:23-27, to be read next week. That Luke is conscious of writing a symbolic tableau may be seen from the correspondences with Luke 7 in the chart below. Chapter 7 resumes in reverse order the marks of the Messiah announced in chapter 4.

Word of God Sunday

In his motu proprio of 30th September 2019, Aperuit Illis, Pope Francishas declared that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God).(ORDO-2021-22 page 45).

  • DR. JAIME L. WATERS: Jesus demonstrates how to find meaning and relevance in Scripture, much in the same way as St. Francis de Sales’ guidance for spiritual direction. One of the practices St. Francis highlighted was lectio divina (sacred reading) which involves reading a passage slowly, finding a word or phrase that resonates with you; meditating on the word or phrase; praying to God, offering praise and asking for guidance on the text’s meanings and contemplating on what the text means in your life. In today’s Gospel, we witness Jesus reading Scripture, relating it to his own experience and context, and using it to proclaim his purpose in the world, highlighting his commitment to ministering to those who are often marginalized in society. As we pray with this text, we can draw inspiration from how Jesus prays with Scripture and connects it to his life and work.

Commentary on the Four Gospels,
Collected out of the Works of the Fathers, by Saint Thomas Aquinas

LUKE 1:1-4

1. Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

2. Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word:

3. It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

4. That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

EUSEBIUS. (Eccl. Hist. iii. 4.) St. Luke at the commencement of his Gospel has told us the reason of his writing, which was, that many others had rashly taken upon themselves to give accounts of those things of which he had a more certain knowledge. And this is his meaning when he says, Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of things.

AMBROSE. (Expos. Ev. Luc. l. i. c. i.) For as many among the Jewish people prophesied by inspiration of the Spirit of God, but others were false prophets rather than prophets, so now also have many attempted to write Gospels which the good moneychanger refuses to pass. One gospel is mentioned which the twelve Apostles are said to have written; another Basilides presumed to write; and another is said to have been by Matthias.

BEDE. (in proœm. Lucæ.) The many who are mentioned, he reckons not so much by their number, as by the variety of their manifold heresies; men who were not endued with the gift of the Holy Spirit, but engaging in a vain work, have rather set forth in order a relation of events, than woven a true history.

AMBROSE. Now they who have attempted to set forth these things in order have laboured by themselves, and have not succeeded in what they attempted. For without the assistance of man come the gifts and the grace of God, which, when it is infused, is wont so to flow, that the genius of the writer is not exhausted, but ever abounding. He well says therefore, Of things which have been fully accomplished among us, or which abound among us. For that which abounds is lacking to none, and no one doubts about that which is fulfilled, since the accomplishment builds up our faith, and the end manifests it.

TITUS BOSTRENSIS. (in proœm. Lucæ.) He says, of things, because not by shadows, as the heretics say, did Jesus accomplish His advent in the flesh, but being as He was the Truth, so in very truth He performed His work.

ORIGEN. (Hom. i. in Luc.) The effect upon his own mind, St. Luke explains by the expression, of the things which have been fully accomplished among us, i. e. have had their full manifestation among us, (as the Greek word πεπληροφορημένων signifies, which the Latin cannot express in one word,) for he had been convinced of them by sure faith and reason, and wavered not in any thing.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Comm. in Act. Apost. Hom. i.) The Evangelist was so far from being content with his single testimony, that he refers the whole to the Apostles, seeking from them a confirmation of his words; and therefore he adds, as they handed them down to us, who were themselves from the beginning eyewitnesses.

EUSEBIUS. (sup.) Luke is a sure witness, because he obtained his knowledge of the truth either from St. Paul’s instructions, or the instructions and traditions of the other Apostles, who were themselves eyewitnesses from the beginning.

CHRYSOSTOM. (sup.) He says, were eyewitnesses, because this is our chief ground for believing in a thing, that we derive it from those who were actually eyewitnesses.

ORIGEN. It is plain that of one kind of knowledge, the end is in the knowledge itself, as in geometry; but of another kind, the end is counted to be in the work, as in medicine; and so it is in the word of God, and therefore having signified the knowledge by the words were themselves eyewitnesses, he points out the work by what follows, and were ministers of the word.

AMBROSE. This expression is used, not that we should suppose the ministry of the word to consist rather in seeing than hearing, but that, because by the word was meant not a word that can be spoken by the mouth, but one of real existence, we may understand that to have been not a common, but a Heavenly Word, to which the Apostles ministered.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. (non occ.) In what he says of the Apostles having been eyewitnesses of the word, he agrees with John, who says, The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory. For the Word by means of the flesh was made visible.

AMBROSE. Now not only did they see the Lord in the body, but also in the Word. For they saw the Word, who with Moses and Elias saw the glory of the Word. Others did not see it, who could only see the body.

ORIGEN. It is written in Exodus, The people saw the voice of the Lord. (Exod. 20:18.) Now a voice is rather heard than seen. But it was so written, to shew us that men see the voice of the Lord with other eyes, which they only have who are worthy of them. Again in the Gospel, it is not the voice that is perceived, but the Word, which is more excellent than the voice.

THEOPHYLACT. (Præf. in Luc.) By these words it is plainly implied, that Luke was not a disciple from the beginning, but became one in course of time; others were disciples from the beginning, as Peter, and the sons of Zebedee.

BEDE. Nevertheless both Matthew and John were obliged in many things that they wrote to consult those who had had means of knowing the infancy, childhood, and genealogy of our Lord, and of seeing the things which he did.

ORIGEN. St. Luke hereby explains to us the source of his writing; seeing that what things he wrote, he gained not from report, but had himself traced them up from the beginning. Hence it follows, It seemed good to me also, having carefully investigated every thing from the very first, to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus.

AMBROSE. When he says, It seemed good to me, he does not deny that it seemed good to God: for it is God who predisposes the wills of men. Now no one has doubted that this book of the Gospel is more full of details than the others; by these words then he claims to himself, not any thing that is false, but the truth; and therefore he says, “It seemed good to me, having investigated every thing, to write.” Not to write every thing, but from a review of every thing; “for if all the things which Jesus did were written, I do not think the world itself could contain them.” (John 21:25.) But purposely has Luke passed by things that were written by others, in order that each book of the Gospel might be distinguished by certain mysteries and miracles peculiar to itself.

THEOPHYLACT. (in loc.) He writes to Theophilus, a man probably of some distinction, and a governor; for the form, Most excellent, was not used except to rulers and governors. As for example, Paul says to Festus, Most excellent Festus. (Acts 26:25.)

BEDE. (sup.) Theophilus means, “loving God,” or “being loved by God.” Whoever then loves God, or desires to be loved by Him, let him think this Gospel to have been written to him, and preserve it as a gift presented to him, a pledge entrusted to his care. The promise was not to explain the meaning of certain new and strange things to Theophilus, but to set forth the truth of those words in which he had been instructed; as it is added, That thou mightest know the truth of those words in which thou hast been instructed; that is, “that thou mightest be able to know in what order each thing was said or done by the Lord.”

CHRYSOSTOM. (sup.) Or it may be, “That thou mightest feel certain and satisfied as to the truth of those things which thou hast heard, now that thou beholdest the same in writing.”

THEOPHYLACT. For frequently, when a thing is asserted by any one, and not expressed in writing, we suspect it of falsehood; but when a man has written what he asserts, we are the more inclined to believe it, as if, unless he thought it to be true, he would not commit it to writing.

GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Photius, comment. in Luc.) The whole Preface of this Evangelist contains two things; first, the condition of those who wrote Gospels before him, (Matthew and Mark for example;) secondly, the reason why he also himself proposed to write one.

Having said, “attempted,” a word which may be applied both to those who presumptuously engage upon a subject, and those who reverently handle it, he determines the doubtful expression by two additions; first, by the words, Of things which have been fully accomplished among us; and secondly, As they handed them down to us, who were eyewitnesses from the beginning. The word handed down seems to shew, that the eye-witnesses themselves had a commission to transmit the truth. For as they handed it down, so it became others also receiving it in due order, in their turn to publish it. But from the not depositing in writing what had been delivered, several difficulties through lapse of time sprang up. Rightly then did those who had received the tradition from the first eye-witnesses of the Word, establish it in writing for the whole world; thereby repelling falsehood, destroying forgetfulness, and making up from tradition itself a perfect whole.

LUKE 4:14-21

14. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.

15. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.

16. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

17. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor: he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

19. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

20. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

21. And he began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.

ORIGEN. The Lord having overcome the tempter, power was added to Him, i. e. as far as regards the manifestation of it. Hence it is said, And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit.

BEDE. By the power of the Spirit he means shewing forth of miracles.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now He performed miracles not from any external power, and from having as it were the acquired grace of the Holy Spirit, as other saints, but rather as being by nature the Son of God, and partaking of all things which are the Father’s, He exercises as by His own power and operation that grace which is of the Holy Spirit. But it was right that from that time He should become known, and that the mystery of His humanity should shine forth among those who were of the seed of Israel. It therefore follows, And his fame went out.

BEDE. And because wisdom belongs to teaching, but power to works, both are joined here, as it follows, And he taught in the synagogue.

Synagogue, which is a Greek word, is rendered in Latin congregatio. By this name then the Jews were accustomed to call not only the gathering together of people, but also the house where they met together to hear the word of God; as we call by the name of Church, both the place and the company of the faithful. But there is this difference between the synagogue which is called congregation, and the Church which is interpreted convocation, that flocks and cattle, and any thing else can be gathered together in one, but only rational beings can be called together. Accordingly the Apostolical doctors thought right to call a people which was distinguished by the superior dignity of a new grace rather by the name of Church, than Synagogue. But rightly also was the fact of His being magnified by those present proved, by actual evidence of word and deed, as it follows, And he was magnified by all.

ORIGEN. But you must not think that they only were happy, and that you are deprived of Christ’s teaching. For now also throughout the world He teaches through His instruments, and is now more glorified by all men, than at that time when those only in one province were gathered together.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. He communicates the knowledge of Himself to those among whom He was brought up according to the flesh. As it follows, And he came to Nazareth.

THEOPHYLACT. That He might teach us to benefit and instruct first our brethren, then to extend our kindness to the rest of our friends.

BEDE. They flocked together on the Sabbath day in the synagogues, that, resting from all worldly occupations, they might set themselves down with a quiet mind to meditate on the precepts of the Law. Hence it follows, And he entered as was his custom on the Sabbath day into the synagogue.

AMBROSE. The Lord in every thing so humbled Himself to obedience, that He did not despise even the office of a reader, as it follows, And he rose up to read, and there was delivered unto him the book, &c. He received the book indeed, that He might shew Himself to be the same who spoke in the Prophets, and that He might stop the blasphemies of the wicked, who say that there is one God of the Old Testament, another of the New; or who say that Christ had His beginning from a virgin. For how did He begin from a virgin, who spoke before that virgin was?

ORIGEN. He opens not the book by chance, and finds a chapter containing a prophecy of Himself, but by the providence of God. Hence it follows, And when he had opened the book, he found the place, &c. (Is. 61:1.)

ATHANASIUS. (Orat. 2. cont. Arian.) He says this to explain to us the cause of the revelation made to the world, and of His taking upon Him the human nature. For as the Son, though He is the giver of the Spirit, does not refuse to confess as man that by the Spirit He casts out devils, so, inasmuch as He was made man, He does not refuse to say, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. In like manner we confess Him to have been anointed, inasmuch as He took upon Him our flesh, as it follows, Because he hath anointed me. For the Divine nature is not anointed, but that which is cognate to us. So also when He says that He was sent, we must suppose Him speaking of His human nature. For it follows, He hath sent me to preach the gospel to the poor.

AMBROSE. You see the Trinity coeternal and perfect. The Scripture speaks of Jesus as perfect God and perfect man. It speaks of the Father, and the Holy Spirit, who was shewn to be a cooperator, when in a bodily form as a dove He descended upon Christ.

ORIGEN. By the poor He means the Gentile nations, for they were poor, possessing nothing at all, having neither God, nor Law, nor Prophets, nor justice, and the other virtues.

AMBROSE. Or, He is anointed all over with spiritual oil, and heavenly virtue, that He might enrich the poverty of man’s condition with the everlasting treasure of His resurrection.

BEDE. He is sent also to preach the Gospel to the poor, saying, Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For perhaps to the poor in spirit He declares in these words, that among all the gifts which are obtained through Christ, upon them was bestowed a free gift. It follows, To heal the broken hearted. He calls those broken hearted, who are weak, of an infirm mind, and unable to resist the assaults of the passions, and to them He promises a healing remedy.

BASIL. (non occ.) Or, He came to heal the broken hearted, i. e. to afford a remedy to those that have their heart broken by Satan through sin, because beyond all other things sin lays prostrate the human heart.

BEDE. Or, because it is written, A broken and a contrite heart God will not despise. (Ps. 51:17.) He says therefore, that He is sent to heal the broken hearted, as it is written, Who heals the broken hearted. (Ps. 147:3.)

It follows, And to preach deliverance to the captives.

CHRYSOSTOM. (in Ps. 125.) The word captivity has many meanings. There is a good captivity, which St. Paul speaks of when he says, Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5.) There is a bad captivity also, of which it is said, Leading captive silly women laden with sins. (2 Tim. 3:6.) There is a captivity present to the senses, that is by our bodily enemies. But the worst captivity is that of the mind, of which he here speaks. For sin exercises the worst of all tyrannies, commanding to do evil, and destroying them that obey it. From this prison of the soul Christ lets us free.

THEOPHYLACT. But these things may be understood also of the dead, who being taken captive have been loosed from the dominion of hell by the resurrection of Christ. It follows, And recovering of sight to the blind.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For the darkness which the Devil has spread over the human heart, Christ the Sun of Righteousness has removed, making men, as the Apostle says, children not of night and darkness, but of light and the day. (1 Thess. 5:5.) For they who one time wandered have discovered the path of the righteous. It follows, To set at liberty them that are bruised.

ORIGEN. For what had been so shattered and dashed about as man, who was set at liberty by Jesus and healed?

BEDE. Or, to set at liberty them that are bruised; i. e. to relieve those who had been heavy laden with the intolerable burden of the Law.

ORIGEN. But all these things were mentioned first, in order that after the recovery of sight from blindness, after deliverance from captivity, after being healed of divers wounds, we might come to the acceptable year of the Lord. As it follows, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Some say that, according to the simple meaning of the word, the Saviour preached the Gospel throughout Judæa in one year, and that this is what is meant by preaching the acceptable year of the Lord. Or, the acceptable year of the Lord is the whole time of the Church, during which while present in the body, it is absent from the Lord.

BEDE. For not only was that year acceptable in which our Lord preached, but that also in which the Apostle preaches, saying, Behold, now is the accepted time. (2 Cor. 6:2.) After the acceptable year of the Lord, he adds, And the day of retribution;a that is, the final retribution, when the Lord shall give to every one according to his work.

AMBROSE. Or, by the acceptable year of the Lord, he means this day extended through endless ages, which knows of no return to a world of labour, and grants to men everlasting reward and rest. It follows, And he closed the book, and he gave it again.

BEDE. He read the book to those who were present to hear Him, but having read it, He returned it to the minister; for while He was in the world He spoke openly, teaching in the synagogues and in the temple; but about to return to heaven, He committed the office of preaching the Gospel to those who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word. He read standing, because while explaining those Scriptures which were written of Him, He condescended to work in the flesh; but having returned the book, He sits down, because He restored Himself to the throne of heavenly rest. For standing is the part of the workman, but sitting of one who is resting or judging. So also let the preacher of the word rise up and read and work and preach, and sit down, i. e. wait for the reward of rest. But He opens the book and reads, because sending the Spirit, He taught His Church all truth; having shut the book, He returned it to the minister, because all things were not to be said unto all, but He committed the word to the teacher to be dispensed according to the capacity of the hearers. It follows, And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him.

ORIGEN. And now also if we will, our eyes can look upon the Saviour. For when you direct your whole heart to wisdom, truth, and the contemplation of the only-begotten Son of God, your eyes behold Jesus.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But then He turned the eyes of all men upon Him, wondering how He knew the writing which He had never learnt. But since it was the custom of the Jews to say that the prophecies spoken of Christ are completed either in certain of their chiefs, i. e. their kings, or in some of their holy prophets, the Lord made this announcement; as it follows, But he began to say unto them that this Scripture is fulfilled.

BEDE. Because, in fact, as that Scripture had foretold, the Lord was both doing great things, and preaching greater.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.



This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.
SOURCE: Fr. John McKinnon at JohnMcKinnon.org


Studying God’s Word

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Luke emphasizes in the prologue to his Gospel (Luke 1:-4) the reasons he wrote, and the care with which he compiled the information, and the reliability of his sources. • After he has preached and performed miracles in other parts of Judea, Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth. No doubt his reputation as a preacher and miracle worker preceded him and his fellow townsfolk were curious to see what sort of things he would say and do. • Called upon to read the Scripture and make commentary in the local synagogue on the Sabbath, Jesus applies the messianic announcement of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-2) to himself.


  1. Compare Lk 4:14 and Lk 4:18 with Luke 3:21 and Luke 4:1. What is the common element in each of these verses? What does it tell you about the source of Jesus’ power?
  2. What is significant about the time, the place, and the posture taken by Jesus in this story (Lk 4:16, 21-22) for his reading from the prophet Isaiah?
  3. What is Jesus’ five-fold mission (Lk 4:18-19)? How did Jesus fulfill it then? How is he fulfilling it now? How do we take part in Jesus’ mission (see Second Reading)?
  4. In the First Reading, what were some of the reactions of the people has they heard the Law read and explained to them? What is our reaction to hearing God’s Word proclaimed?
  5. What expectations stirred in the people as a result of Jesus’ claim (verses 21-22)? Based on this reading, what expectations about Jesus fill your heart?
SOURCE: Sunday Scripture Study by Vince Contreras, Used with Permission

Junior High Scripture Discussion Starters

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  1. Why does Jesus go to the synagogue?
  2. What does Jesus do in the synagogue?
  3. What does Jesus read?
  4. Why were the eyes of all the people fixed on Jesus after he read from the scroll?
  5. What does Jesus say to the people?

Questions for Deeper Reflection

  • How do these readings remind you of how we worship at Mass?
  • When do you listen to the Word of God proclaimed?
  • Can scripture have meaning for you in your daily life? Explain.
SOURCE: Lectionary Resources by RCL BENZINGER

Our Sunday Readings

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SOURCE: Our Sunday Readings by Edrianne Ezell, Used with Permission


Sharing God’s Word

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1. Turn to the person next to you and share what verse in the Gospel caught your attention. The facilitator can decide which is more helpful: to share the next questions with the whole group, or to share in smaller groups of three or four.

2. The scene described in the first reading is very emotional. All the people are weeping as they listen to the Word of God being proclaimed. When did the Scriptures start to become alive for you?

3. “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit . . .” Can you name one time when you felt the power of the Spirit at work in you?

4. In the Gospel, Jesus says that he has come to “bring glad tidings to the poor.” How does your parish seek to continue this mission of Jesus today? How can you participate in this central part of Jesus’ mission?

5. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.

SOURCE: Commentaries on the Lectionary by Fr. Eamon Tobin (1947-2021), Used with Permission


Let us now pause to see how something(s) said in the reading might lead us into shared prayer.

“Dear Jesus, please open my heart to more clearly hear your word spoken to me and the grace to respond more fervently.” “Holy Spirit, please help me to recognize my own gifts and appreciate the gifts of all others you send into my life.”


Lord God, you have given us your revealed word as spiritual food to nourish your people, and to strengthen your church as the Body of your Son Jesus Christ. May we recognize and partake of this food when we gather at the table of the Word.

SOURCE: Commentaries on the Lectionary by Fr. Eamon Tobin (1947-2021), Used with Permission


Echoing God’s Word

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1. Imagine the Church stripped of all its power and prestige, of its images and its structures. Its original leaders having died. Is God going to abandon the Gentile Church, too, like he seems to have abandoned the Jewish Christians? (Luke’s Gospel is “good news” for this community of Gentile Christians.) What meaning can that have today for the Church which is being stripped of power and prestige in the marketplace of ideas, in the courts, in legislatures and parliaments, in executive offices of government?

2. Discuss why the early Christian community rejoiced when they heard that the “poor” would hear the “Good News” of salvation. Are we among the “poor” today who hunger for the same message? In what ways are we “poor?” In what ways is the Gospel message a cause for our rejoicing?

3. Notice the role of the Holy Spirit already in Luke’s Gospel: coming upon Mary to bring the Word of God to life in her, leading Jesus into the desert to define his mission, anointing Jesus for his mission. How is the Holy Spirit doing those same three functions in the Church today?

4. Discuss the role of the Holy Spirit in bringing the Bible word to life in us, in bringing the Word which is Christ to life in us, helping us clarify our mission and anointing us for our mission.

SOURCE: Echoing God’s Word by Clement D. Thibodeau (1932-2017), Used with Permission


Making Connections

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Bishop Jim Golka, presents a reflection on the Second Reading from St. Paul while he was Rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Grand Island, Nebraska, in 2019.