New beginnings appear in our lives in many ways and at different times. Not too long ago we began yet another new year. It offered us a time to look back and reflect, as well as a time to look forward and dream of possibilities. Of course, turning the calendar is not the only new beginning we come across in life. Graduations, new jobs, weddings, births, and so many other life events offer us times of not only looking forward but also being mindful of the past.
Today’s Gospel passage tells the story surrounding a new beginning in salvation history. It describes the start of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. The first thing Jesus sets out to do is to preach that the kingdom of God is at hand. Although we do not hear the full story of the Gospel in today’s passage, we have the privilege of knowing what comes after this. Indeed, what follows is Jesus demonstrating through words and action just what he means when he proclaims that the kingdom of God is at hand. The blind see, sinners are forgiven, the marginalized have a place at the table, and all of us are brought to salvation through Jesus’ sacrificial death.
We also have the privilege of knowing what has been before this point. Indeed, there is a very clear call back to the first reading. Isaiah acknowledges the yearning, the need, and the pain of our experience before the Messiah, and yet he also announces that this darkness will not be the final word. Salvation is coming. When we read about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, this new beginning directly connects to the past. It makes the present that much more glorious because it shows that God has kept his promise and the world is not overcome by darkness.
As baptized members of the Church, we can see both sides of this point in salvation history. We live the truth of fulfillment, but we do not forget the past. It shows the magnitude, the power of our salvation which we now enjoy. As we recognize this great gift, we are called to live Jesus’ message of repentance. We can benefit from being mindful of how we can turn away from that which separates us from God. We can grow in our understanding of how we are called to live the truth of the kingdom of God.
God is calling us back to him. Our new beginnings are at hand, and we can grow in a deeper commitment to our faith. Indeed, every time we receive the body of Christ, it is a new beginning. May God continue to guide us on this journey.