Comedian and social media sensation Celeste Barber takes Julia on a fascinating tour of the Gold Coast and shares surprising stories from her life and the fallout of raising 52 million dollars for bushfire relief.
Photo: Home Delivery, ABC

‘Going home’

Melinda Kearns
Epiphany 3, Year C
Luke 4:14-21

Occasionally, I watch Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery on ABC TV. Anyone else watch it? For those who don’t, a brief summary – it is basically an interview, where Julia takes the subject back to some formative places in their past and asks them about how this place contributed to the person who they have turned out to be.

In her program on Cathy Freeman, Julia Zemiro takes her back to the running track in Darwin where she won her early races, and in her interview with Rebel Wilson Julia took Rebel back to the school theatre where she first developed her love of performing. The implication throughout the program is that these early opportunities shaped the successes that they later had in life and led them to the people who they would become. The subjects reflect upon the experiences that they had in their younger years and how these transformed their lives.

Going back to a formative place can affect how we see ourselves and think about how others see us. Revisiting a place that was familiar to us in childhood allows us to see what has changed and how we have changed, or how we have stayed the same. Hearing a story from the past might bring about fond reminiscence, or regret, or a reflection about how we are very different from who we were then. Sometimes our identities have completely changed – we have completely reinvented ourselves from our younger years. Some people remain the same. For some, reinvention is a question of necessity or survival, or positive transformation. For most of us, it is probably a mixture of both.

The New Testament tells us very little about Jesus’ formative years. The first 12 years of his life, from the excitement of his birth to being discovered learning in the temple is covered in the second chapter of Luke. Luke tells us that Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and with people” (Luke 2:52), but there is much that we don’t know until the beginning of his ministry and his return to Nazareth, the place of his growing up.

Prior to the scene in the reading today, Luke records a series of events through which Jesus announces his identity and his intentions – being baptised by John, his human genealogy being recorded, being tempted by Satan, and performing his first miracle turning water into wine (which is only recorded in John’s gospel). In the reading today, Jesus returns to his hometown to preach the shortest homily ever: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

The short reading today tells us a great deal about the identity of Jesus. Learning about the word of God and teaching others about the scriptures has been central in his life since he was a child. On his way back to Nazareth, Jesus has demonstrated his knowledge of scripture in fending off Satan’s temptations and has been teaching in the synagogues around the countryside “where everyone praised him” (Luke 4:14).

News about Jesus has spread around the countryside and so his homecoming is an exciting event. He goes to the synagogue on the Sabbath “as was his custom” (4:16), demonstrating his immersion in the scriptures.

His selection from Isaiah outlines his own sense of mission:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

Jesus tells his listeners that he is here to fulfil God’s promises – that everything that they have waited for is at last at hand. Jesus announces radical change and exciting news for those who are oppressed, poor, blind and captive, all having social and spiritual dimensions.

In returning to his hometown, Jesus is reflecting on what has made him the person he is, demonstrating his knowledge of scripture to announce how much everything is going to change. Luke allows us to see the themes and consistency in Jesus’ identity, giving us the opportunity to see the beginning of Jesus’ mission for us and allowing us to be part of his journey towards changing the world, proclaiming freedom, vision, equality and God’s blessing.

In going home, Jesus shows us how our home, our world and our identities, in following him, can be different.

Please be with us, Jesus, as we make our true home in you, striving to be more like you every day. Amen.