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When he was a little boy, my youngest brother was often sick. He had a tendency to get pneumonia very easily and was hospitalized several times over the years for that illness. Growing up for him was definitely marked by medical challenges. And this left its mark.
Because our mom was physically challenged, I was left to ensure that my brothers got their homework done, got ready for school on time, and that I got them home safely, particularly when they were in elementary school. One day Peter, the youngest, announced “I’m not going to school today.” “Why not,” I asked. “Are you sick?”
“No,” he replied, “but I don’t want to get polio.”
There had recently been a case of polio in our city, and so there was a lot of conversation and concern at the local schools to make sure that all students were out of danger. In previous years, a very extensive vaccination program had been undertaken, and at that point had progressed to an oral vaccine from the subcutaneous injection I had been given. Peter had the been a recipient of the oral vaccination protocol, but given his personal history of medical struggles, it is not surprising that such talk worried him.
I tried to reassure him that he would be. I asked if he remembered the little drop of red juice the nurse gave everyone last year. He said he did. I told him that red juice was given to ensure that none of the kids could get polio. I even went so far as to say that he was lucky because he only had to take that juice.
“But that was last year. Maybe I can get sick now.”
I told him that yes it did happen last year, but it keeps on working, and it doesn’t stop. A vaccination is like that, or at least most are…once you’re vaccinated, you’re vaccinated. It keeps on going!
It seemed to comfort him a little and off to school he went.
In our text this Sunday, it picks up where we left off last week, with Jesus announcing that the prophecy from Isaiah 61, had been fulfilled in their hearing, right then, from that very moment. This week’s text underscores the offense taken by Jesus’ hearers at realizing what Jesus was saying. The problem is not that the issues addressed by Isaiah had once and forever been eliminated, but that the beginning of the solution which started with Jesus, continues with Jesus, right up to this very day. And on this very day, we are Christ’s hands and feet in the world. We are to be bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and letting oppressed people go free. Jesus’ work goes on, and will always go on, in us and those who follow him after us. The Gospel keeps on going! And it is a huge privilege/responsibility for us!