Fulfilled in Your Hearing

January 27, 2019

This powerful Gospel engages us to seek and find everything in the blessings of God.  Jesus sits at the synagogue and a scroll is given to Him.  He reads from the prophet Isaiah.  This reading announces a year of favor from our God.  It speaks of conversion.  The hurting will find peace.  Captives will be set free, gladness will enter the conversations of all.  This is a time when fulfillment will prosper.  I have always loved picturing this setting.  I have always entered this Gospel reflecting on the crowd who were not only spellbound by what the Lord has to say, but also the hope He raised.  This is a year of favor.   Do we live trusting that this year and every year and every day is a moment of favor from our God?   Do we believe we can find fulfillment in this moment and allow it to transform our lives?  I do.  When I first arrived at St. Anne, we adopted a few Sundays when after our reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, different ministries presented a short summary of what they do in our community.  We highlighted the SPICE Ministry, the Bereavement Ministry and the God Parent High school program.  The short witness gave us a sense of blessing.  It revealed to us this was a year of favor with all that was taking place and how lives were being changed.  After each of these Sundays many remarked that they did not realize these things were happening.

There is great blessing happening at St. Anne.  Every year and every day is a blessing.  When Jesus spoke these words in the synagogue, He was inviting the community of those gathered to realize that this was an experience that is to be received over time.  It is not a one-time event.  It isn’t that we had our prayers answered and it is over, like attending a sporting event.  It isn’t that the time of fulfillment begins and the time of fulfillment ends.  Jesus spoke of fulfillment as an experience over time.  The joy and fulfillment of the Sacrament of Marriage is not about one day, but a lifetime.  A couple committed to each other breaks open the blessings seen and unseen over the years.  What a joy.  The same is true in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  As the years of ministry have unfolded in my life, the deepening commitment of God finds a new and ever strengthening joy not even thought of over 34 years ago when I was a newly ordained priest.

Fulfillment is not just a momentary experience that is closed with then a new journey beginning to seek the next fulfillment.  Fulfillment is a continuum.  It is a year of favor followed by another year of favor.  So often society tells us what we are to search, receive and then move to begin another search.  How often do we do that with our electronic search engines?  If we cannot find it this way, we ask Alexa, or Google or Apple, or Amazon to find it another way.  What we are searching for then finds us questioning what we have found or accepting that the search did not yield to our expectations.

On the spiritual journey Jesus invited the people in the synagogue to find fulfillment right where they were.  He is doing the same for us.  This is a year of favor like no other.  This is a time of blessing like no other; the experiences of this year will lead us to a new place with God.

Our definition of fulfillment must be connected with awareness.  Awareness must be grounded in the desire to know our soul and what feeds it.

It is here; seek and you will find it.

Reverend  John J. Ouper