Reflection for Bible Sunday and the political events this week.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor….. Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus in today’s Gospel, Luke 4:16-24.
“I am a fighter not a quitter.” PM Liz Truss, Wednesday 19th October.
“I cannot deliver the mandate…. I am resigning.” PM Liz Truss, Thursday 20th October.
It being Bible Sunday today, the Gospel portrays Jesus delivering what is, in effect, his manifesto as he is asked to speak in the synagogue and publicly reads from the prophet Isaiah. This passage is well known and speaks of freedom for the captive, recovery of sight for the blind and the proclamation of the year of the Lord’s favour. It‘s a message of hope but is being read at a time when Palestine is under Roman occupation and there is unrest, suffering, anxiety and inequality. When Jesus declares that it has been fulfilled as he reads it, such a controversial statement angers those present so greatly that they eventually drive him out of town to hurl him off a cliff, although Jesus leaves unharmed.
This week in British politics has also seen a leader causing great controversy and anger, with Prime Minister Liz Truss resigning after six weeks through being unable to deliver the mandate on which she was elected. During the leadership contest, some thought her manifesto had seemed to be bold and radical but, as she later admitted, her economic policies had gone “too far and too fast”. At a time of already great turmoil and hardship, the catastrophic consequences and turbulence were extraordinary, leading to what was described as the political disembowelment of the Prime Minister. She has been driven out of office and is now the shortest serving PM in UK history but the vast economic problems remain, amongst them the Government’s rating being downgraded by Moody’s from stable to negative. The truth of this is hard to bear and the instability of the situation as well as the challenge for whoever replaces Liz Truss is vast for the country as well as the Tories. As the commentator Beth Rigby declared, “We live day by day….. Actually, we live hour by hour. The party has had a collective breakdown.”
Clearly, there was also a breakdown in understanding between Jesus and his hearers in the synagogue when they experienced a truth too hard for them to handle. But as Jesus declared the fulfilment of the scripture he read that day, so the same is true in our lives – now is the moment, now is the time for God’s purposes. If that seems too challenging in the face of such consternation and negativity, then perhaps the collect for Bible Sunday will enable greater confidence as we ponder today what the present moment may be showing us and try to discern how hope can be fulfilled in the face of such adversity and transience: Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; help us so to hear, mark, learn and inwardly digest them that, through patience and the comfort of your holy word, we may embrace and for ever hold fast the hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
With my prayers; pob bendith,