The Circus and Salvation
Gospel Reflection for Luke 4:31-37
Readings for today can be accessed on the USCCB website.
Last summer my family and I had the opportunity to attend a Cirque du Soleil performance, crossing off a desire I’ve had since childhood. As the name implies, it is a type of circus; one that focuses on astounding acrobatics.
The performance did not disappoint. From coordinated jumps between performers on high swings and bars, to jumping to and fro, high between poles and between other performers, to spinning to a dizzying effect on ropes hung from above. Being amazed at one part of the show was just superseded by the next! It was a rather jaw-dropping experience for all of us.
He taught them on the sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching Luke 4:31-32
The people in the synagogue were just in the middle of being astonished by Jesus’ teaching when, as if that wasn’t enough, *boom!* a man with a demon is healed in their presence by Jesus.
The curing of the man with an unclean demon strikes the people with another wave of awe.
Unlike a circus performance, Jesus’ actions are not for entertainment but for salvation. The people aren’t astonished by his teaching because of his amazing oratory skills, but because he spoke as though he was intimately familiar with the will of God. And curing the man of the demon - how could this not elicit awe?
What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out. Luke 4:36
This question really sinks into the depth of Christ Jesus. What IS there about his word? It inspired the people while he taught AND it commanded unclean spirits to vanquish. Jesus’ word. He, the living Word of the Father. There is little other authentic response than astonishment to the work of God!
I’m reminded of Jesus asking his disciples, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ As much as this question was to them, he asks it to each of us, too. The ‘ah ha!’ moments of our faith, the big and small miracles in our own lives…these, too, are personal favours given to us through God’s Word, meant to draw us in close to him. Not for entertainment. But to be given life in intimate relationship with him and to fall in love with him more deeply.
Just as the people who encountered Jesus in the story today were open to being drawn into his mystery, can we, too, see the possibilities of encountering Jesus today? As our day unfolds, let us be open to seeing the ways his teaching is being lived out authentically and where his miracles are at work in the ordinary. Let us be surprised by him and let us praise God for all that he is doing for us!