Playgrounds still resound with “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But those words ring hollow. As adults, and as children, we know only too well the power of words to do harm.
In contrast, the scriptures for today point us to the word that bears hope, promise, and life. Human words can hurt or fail, but now we hear this holy word of wisdom, challenge, instruction, and hope that really does form us in God’s promise.
Rather than words that tear down, we are invited by the prophets and Jesus into God’s living words with and among friends.
Jesus, in coming home and attending the synagogue, reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus announces good news to those struggling economically on the fringes of society, hope to those who are imprisoned, healing to those without sight, a lifting of the burden from those who are weighed down or oppressed, and even the in-breaking of a holy year of favour. Standing in a tradition of prophets and priests who speak, engage, and teach God’s word, Jesus now offers one thing more—fulfillment.
The words of those who dream and hope, who work for justice and mercy on behalf of God, are now true. Today as we look around and see people spending time speaking, reading, and even playing games with words, this is an opportunity to ground ourselves in the one full Word that bears life. This word counters sticks and stones and all that oppresses; Jesus address announces God’s liberating actions. This Word sounds promise to all who hear; it is an invitation to see God at work among God’s people.