(I John 4:19-5:4; Luke 4:14-22)
In 1961 when John Kennedy was inaugurated, he delivered one of the most inspiring speeches in history. “The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans,” the young president said, “born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage....” Now the United States awaits the inauguration of another young president with a claim to newness every bit as significant as that of his predecessor forty-eight years ago. But neither John Kennedy nor Barack Obama can match the anticipation that accompanies Jesus in the gospel today.
Jesus returns to his home town to deliver his first public address in Luke’s gospel. He enters the synagogue, takes the scroll with a passage from Isaiah, reads about someone being anointed by the Spirit to proclaim glad tidings to the poor, and finally announces that he has come to fulfill this prophecy. Humanity can sigh in relief. Women and men will have not only sound teaching to guide them to peace but also the strengthening of will to make it happen.
For all the great expectations that Barack Obama engenders, many are rightfully skeptical of his presidency because of his support of abortion. In any case, we must not place ultimate hope in political messiahs. They may improve the conditions of earthly life, but they cannot bring about a totally just society. For that we still look only to Jesus, the anointed one, who has long ascended to his throne to secure for us the deepest desires of our hearts.