In an "inaugural address" in the synagogue in Nazareth Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah, to claim in circumstances like ours (where the temple and its values are at great risk of an unsavory collaboration between the priests and the governors):
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to preach good
news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Jesus concludes, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21) and begins travelling through the towns and villages of Galilee preaching, healing and "bringing the good news of the kingdom of God" (Luke 8:1). When opponents ask when this ‘kingdom’ was to appear, he answers them, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed [like a cosmic catastrophe]...for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you" or alternatively, "within you"] (Luke 17:20-21).
There are near inaugurations that make us rightfully intimidated and wary. There are inaugurations that make us faint of heart and angry, heart sick and forsaken, so much so that we turn from even a picture of it on TV. And make us want to quit the organizations that failed us. But while what mystical energies stir the bastard son of a lowly carpenter to public action are still a mystery, the words of a previous prophet he claims as his own reality are clear.
Sometimes the powerful person inaugurated is like a Jewish priest of old, one selected from a long line of chaste, duty-bound, and purportedly holy people qualified for the work by birth― imbued with the power to make stunning and shunning decisions to include or exclude. Sometimes the powerful persons inaugurated are appointed civil servants of a distant Caesar ―imbued with the power of punishment, imprisonment, torture, and even life and death. Bodies are crushed and confined and crucified in such times and yet the words of old remain true, despite the visible threat from these inaugurated powers
Yet sometimes the surprisingly powerful are the self-inaugurated, the self-inaugurated who see the captives and proclaim their freedom even when that despair laden reality is not yet fully evident, is troublingly clouded , or even wholly hidden. And claim liberation for themselves at the same time. Many of us are unsure if messiahs are born or made or even possible but sure that we have come to a difficult and troubling announcement of self-inauguration because we know of a certain that liberation is needed, that the newly captive and the longsuffering captives must be set free, that the oppressed must be loosed from the burdens of the oppressors, and that the appointed day is now. The great challenge of self-inauguration and inaugurating each other in momentous times such as these is to know that naming a desperately needed liberation inexorably binds us to all suffering others. The difficult truth to name and live up to is this compelling truth: that my liberation is inextricably bound up with yours and all others. Let this inauguration day be such an inauguration for us all.
Rev. Doug Lowry
Sowers of Justice Network