Gospel Lectio Divina for 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time- January 23, 2022

Gospel Lectio Divina for 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time- January 23, 2022

By David Kilby

Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

            The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

                        because he has anointed me 

                        to bring glad tidings to the poor.

            He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives

                        and recovery of sight to the blind,

                        to let the oppressed go free,

                        and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”


Luke 1:1-4

Imagining I was in the Holy Land in the first century, I can see why Luke begins his Gospel this way. Jesus wasn’t just another prophet. Even if he was simply a prophet, much may have been written about him still. However, being that he was the son of God, the one the prophets spoke of, there was more written about Jesus than any other person in history. It must have been extremely difficult to sift through all that was written about him and find what was true. The way Luke begins his Gospel is key to the accurate historicity of Jesus’ life and ministry. The Gospels are apparently not just stories handed down. Luke makes a point to distinguish between what they eyewitnessed and what had been handed down to them. The very motive for Luke writing his Gospel was to set the record straight, out of concern that the truth of what happened would otherwise be lost. If it weren’t for the Gospels, Jesus’ life probably would have faded into legend, and the real Jesus would have been indistinguishable from the legend. We know by the way Luke begins his Gospel that he intended to give an accurate, historic account of Jesus’ life and ministry. Jesus lives within us when we invite him in, but the Gospels prove that he lived on earth, performed miracles, died and rose again. In fact, the Gospel writers put their lives on the line to proclaim this truth.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. 

Luke is mentioning that Jesus returned with the power of the Spirit to bring attention to the fact that Christ had recently been baptized–and we could read about his baptism in Luke 3, the previous chapter. Now, being God, Jesus had the power of the Spirit before and forever after as well, but Luke makes note of it to highlight the importance of baptism. The mystery of the Incarnation is beyond us; why Jesus had to be baptized is different from the reasons why we have to be baptized. However, the baptism of Jesus, and the ensuing 40 days in the desert, show that Jesus had to undergo his own tests before he could begin his ministry. Even though he was the son of God, he still had to prepare himself. He was still tempted. After undergoing and passing his trials in the desert, Jesus returned to Galilee. Even before he begins performing the miracles Luke records, Jesus has a renowned reputation. Before the events of the Gospel we know Jesus most for, he was already widely known. Meditate on that for a moment. The stories about Jesus we learn in the Gospels are only a portion of all the renowned deeds he performed.


he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor…

Liberation theologians may use this verse to point out how Jesus came to equalize society and give reason for the poor to rise up against the rich. I read it differently. Jesus often talks about leaving behind the riches of this world. He talks about the poor in spirit, and how we cannot serve both God and money. Jesus brings glad tidings to the poor because he shows how there is so much more to live for than mere riches, so if you do not have material wealth you need not worry because you can still have spiritual wealth thanks to the good news Jesus fulfills with his coming into the world. 

 liberty to captives … to let the oppressed go free

Continuing with the same theme from above, many people who read these verses think Isaiah is saying Jesus will be a political liberator, freeing the Israelites from the bondage of the Roman Empire. Liberation theologians use these verses as a rally call to rise against the upper classes, saying that Scripture favors the poor and the oppressed. Not so. Sure, the Gospel provides a way out for the poor and oppressed, but not through political uprising. Jesus calls for the poor and oppressed to look to their heavenly inheritance, eternal life in Christ. In God’s kingdom, they will be free and rich if they live a life of virtue. If they can simply endure the hardships of this life a little longer, and live a life of faith in Christ, they will store up treasures and be free in heaven. Those are glad tidings indeed.




Thank you for revealing the true meaning of your Word to us. Thank you for helping us to not only see, but perceive heaven in the midst of your teaching. So many temptations pull at us to keep our eyes on this world, just like the devil tempted you in the desert. Give us the courage and faith to endure those temptations, to keep our eyes on heaven and to have a simple faith that will lead us to deeper truth. Free us from the bondage of sin, and help us see the joy of eternal life with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

When we listen closer to God’s word, we find deeper meaning. There are layers to Scripture: namely, there’s the literal, historical, allegorical, and anagogical sense. It’s easy to get caught up in just one or two and just ignore the others. When we listen closely though, which lectio divina is designed to help us do, we take the time to discover each layer. Sometimes God is also speaking directly to us in a way not even denoted in any of the established senses of Scripture. This is yet another way to prove that God is not only real, but living and breathing among us still.


Kilby is a freelance writer from New Jersey and managing editor of Catholic World Report.

 Glory to the Father The Son and The Holy Spirit