Readings: Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:12-30; Luke: 1:1-4, 4:14-21
Some scholars have called St. Luke’s Gospel and Acts of the Apostles a “biography” of the Holy Spirit–a bit glib but you get the point. St. Luke certainly underlines the operation of the Holy Spirit from what we Christians recognize as the saints of the Old Testament to the growth of the New Testament Church. And that’s quite a development, even a surprise.
The birth of the Son of the Most High God through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit should have placed him on the throne of David his father to reign forever. This should have been the crown of God’s covenant with his Chosen People. But something went wrong. Jesus was not acclaimed Messiah by the majority of his own people. Instead, a foreign government executed him.
God so values the free will he gives us that he would never coerce us to do the right thing. God knows that doing the right thing is not the same as doing the good–the good can only be born of free will. God has all eternity to wait for us to wake up to the depth and goodness of his will.
In fact, Jesus does reign forever on the throne of David his father but not as anyone could have envisioned at the time of his conception. No human misunderstanding or failure can derail God’s will.
As the Holy Spirit had overshadowed Mary, the Spirit continued to hover over a new creation. We see that in today’s Gospel: the same Spirit that descended upon Jesus after his Baptism while he prayed, is active. For it is in the power of the Spirit that Jesus returns to Galilee and reads from Isaiah that the Spirit of the Lord is upon me…to bring glad tidings to the poor; and to proclaim this as realized in his own person.
In dirt poor Nazareth that should be very good news. But here our reading breaks off and we won’t hear the reactions of Jesus’ neighbors until next Sunday. That’s the crux of the matter: will they resist the Spirit or welcome the Spirit? Isn’t that the difference between the annunciation to Zechariah and the annunciation to Mary?