Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: Part 2: “Letter from Birmingham Jail: February 3, 2019
Today’s Gospel story is a continuation of last week’s where Jesus opens the book of the prophet Isaiah and finds the place where it is written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. …” Jesus then closes the book and gives it back to the attendant, and sits down. As everyone is watching him and he says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
With Isaiah’s words still echoing in the synagogue, Jesus turns his listeners’ expectations upside down. By saying these words from Isaiah and giving examples of the widow of Zarephath and the leper Naaman Jesus scandalizes his hearers by stating that the only successes the prophets Elijah and Elisha had at healing were with pagan foreigners. Jeremiah the young prophet and Paul the apostle also speak from a prophetic position that is not welcome, at least not at first.