This week the Revised Common Lectionary has paired an interesting couple of texts. We have Luke 4:14-21 (Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth) and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a (“one body in the Spirit”). At first sight there isn’t an immediate connection between them and I suspect they are joined because the RCL is following two simultaneous tracks, through Luke and through 1 Corinthians, that are not strongly aligned.
At any rate I was at first puzzled and uncertain about what to do with them this Sunday. Should I continue with my exploration of the way the Spirit equips the Church (begun last week with the immediately prior section of Paul’s letter)? Or should I return to my reflections on the Spirit’s empowering of Jesus (begun the week before when thinking about the baptism of Christ)?
Then it came to me that this was in fact two ways of approaching the thing I really wanted to talk about, the Spirit’s empowering of the Church to be Christ’s body (the centre of Paul’s attention in our epistle) in order to continue to proclaim God’s good news (as Jesus does in the Gospel passage).
Here the two key points are 1) the role of the Spirit in the two texts and 2) the relationship between the text Jesus reads, with its explanation of what the Spirit has anointed the prophet Isaiah to do, and he remark when he has finished: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”.
When we hear read the account of Jesus’ reading and of his claim of fulfillment, what is happening?
When this text is read in a church, in the midst of the body of Christ constituted out of our weakness by the Spirit, the scripture is fulfilled again: the good news is proclaimed.
It is true that our salvation is not yet complete. It is true that peace and justice do not yet reign without qualification. It is true that we still await the return of Christ in glory.
In the Church Christ remains present. His coming does fulfill the scripture, he does inaugurate the kingdom of God. We are given the opportunity to participate and to inhabit that kingdom, in the power of the Spirit.