spirit of the Lord is upon me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to
proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. To let the
oppressed got free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (St.
James’ Bible includes another line from Isaiah, “He has sent me to heal the
years ago, when Dr. Mary Berry came to teach us about the chant, she told us
that it was very probable that Jesus could have sung these words on this
occasion: some scrolls included musical notation. It was then that she
speculated, “Was he a bass, a tenor or a baritone?” Like the question,
“What size sandals did Jesus take?” What is known as the scandal of
particularity: the exact measurement of the Incarnation. In these words, whether
said or sung, Jesus announced the opening of his public ministry. If you look at
it, it could also be a description of Jesus himself. He was poor, taken captive,
blindfolded, oppressed and broken hearted. We have here the same suggestion as
in St. Matthew’s Gospel, “As much as you have done it to the least of my
brethren, you have done it to me,” (Matt. 25:40) and on the road to
So we have the claim that what was done, not only to his disciples but to anyone at all, was in fact done to him. Any person suffering the agonies of humanity was Jesus himself going through that agony. It is a claim which means Jesus is not only present in the Church and in the liturgical celebrations of the paschal mystery but in the trauma and tenor of men and women everywhere. It is a mistake, then, to place the tragedies of our world now, today, outside the gracious power of the Gospel and Jesus himself. Timothy Radcliffe writes, “It is not enough to see the places of human suffering and to be a tourist of the world’s crucifixion. These are the places in which theology is to be done.” (Sing a New Song).
dying and rising of Jesus then is not here or there, it is everywhere. There is
no such place as a God-less world - a world outside the working of the Grace of
God. The liturgical celebrations of Holy Week which we offer every spring time
are meant to point away from the boundaries of the Sanctuary to the dying and
living of humanity that aches for transformation and meaning. The power of
God’s transforming grace is present both here in the church and in all places
of human degradation and despair – in Steven’s work of victim support and
Philip’s in the hospitals – as well as the Community’s exploration of the
lonely and the lost in the Methodist Mission in
a great joy to us that more and more folk are experiencing the “Stations of
Salvation” here in our church but we must not forget the salvation of those
who pour through the other stations – bus and train stations in Leeds,
My own experience of something of all of this came to me early one Easter Day. I was celebrating Mass in the hermitage of Julian of Norwich. Among the small group there was a woman who did not receive communion. Afterwards, the parish priest told me that he was fairly sure that this woman was a prostitute from King’s Street. For me this was a strange and unexpected experience of Easter morning – the presence of the sight-blinding risen Lord and the degrading misery of King’s Street – all in one place – the place where Julian lived out her life.
So Jesus, standing in the synagogue that Sabbath Day announced to the world a shattering event – the presence of the saving grace and beauty of God in the sacramental life of the church - and in the appalling agony of our world.
I would like to end with the words of a Jewish philosopher, “Every moment is a small door through which the Messiah may come.”
Simon Holden CR