This week, we submit our listening ears to Jesus’ interpretation at Nazareth in Luke 4: 14-21. Five weeks ago we heard Mary singing of the “mighty from their thrones and “filling the hungry with good things.” Now we hear the hometown boy read similar words from Isaiah.
Largely, we are not the people of Nazareth. They, subsisting in a Galilean peasant goat-town, were the poor, the captives, the oppressed. These ancient words were the butter on their bread of hope. Nothing particularly new. What was new was the shocking little commentary he adds to the haftorah portion (perhaps even the appointed portion of the day). “This has been fulfilled in your hearing.” It’s already on the launching pad and there is no turning back.
Imagine the possibility that Jesus himself had no particular intention of saying such a thing. Imagine the time it took for him to unroll that scroll, read, re-roll that scroll. There must have been a weighty mantle of eyes bearing down upon him. Imagine him looking out and into the eyes of one of his dear Torah teachers, or the bowed figure of the apprentice who showed him how to square a corner even before he could read. Imagine him looking at the worn little spot in the floor where he first felt the floating warmth of Holiness as they sang the psalms of “protection in the shadow of Your wing”.
Maybe it could have only happened there in little Nazareth in the synagogue — tugged, even yanked, out of him by the gaze of the very community who raised him, and yet now is shocked by him.