3rd. Sunday in Ordinary Time: Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“For a Genuine Celebration of the Word.”
The first reading and the Gospel are two excellent examples of how a genuine ‘Celebration of the Word’ should be. These two readings should draw our attention and reflection on how our communities perform their Sunday celebrations. Do they achieve their objectives? What is right and what must be changed?
The second reading could be seen as linked to this theme since Paul, speaking of the charisms, stresses the primary importance to be attached to the proclamation of the word of God.
In the Gospel, Luke presents us with Jesus’ opening words of his public ministry, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring ‘Good News’ to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation, are from the published works of priests who have, by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10.
It was now one hundred years since the people of Israel had been released from their Babylonian exile and had returned to their country, but they hadn’t succeeded to organize their lives well yet. There is still a lot of confusion and everybody does what they like. There is a lot of stealing and violence and the poor continue to be exploited shamelessly.
The king of Persia sends Ezra to Jerusalem to find a solution to this chaotic situation. The people do not fail to keep the Lord’s Commandments and precepts out of wickedness, but out of ignorance – they just don’t know them anymore. On New Year’s day he “brings the ‘Book of the Law’ before the assembly, consisting of men, women and all those old enough to understand and he reads it in the square of the “Water Gate”. Ezra read the Law of Moses out to them, standing on a high wooden platform so that the people could see and hear. The people performed acts of reverence to the Law and, with the help of the Levites who were there, interpreted it to the people.
As the people heard what was being proclaimed, they began to respond with tears, perhaps because they realized how imperfectly they had been observing God’s Law. But Ezra and Nehemiah and the Levites urged the people not to weep but to rejoice. In fact, they were to go home and engage in a fully-fledged celebration, with special food and drink and with special attention to the poor.
God’s Law was not intended to bring them sorrow, but peace, joy and happiness. Their strength would consist in rejoicing in the Lord. The passage of today’s reading is the description of this first solemn celebration of the Word and contains useful suggestions for our celebrations.
We seem to forget that the first task of every baptized person is to nourish faith together with members of the community and to hear the Word of God. A Church where the faithful cannot listen to the readings because there is too much noise is not a good place to celebrate the Word.
It is important that the position of the body be an indication of our respect for what we are hearing. The Word of God must be explained in simple language so as to be understood by all. The readers of the Word must seek out suitable comparisons and images and identify practical applications to the life of the community.
A good homily results in people making a thorough examination of conscience. The day of the meeting of the Word of God must be always a feast and a celebration. The certainty that God keeps speaking to his people and continues to accompany them is a source of great joy.
Psalm 19:8-10, 15.
The Psalm expresses an attitude to God’s Law that Ezra would have appreciated. The same Psalm earlier praises God for the wonder of his creation. It gives him equal praise for having prepared such a Law for his people.
1 Corinthians 12:12-30.
Paul continues his instruction on spiritual gifts. He has already defended their diversity. He now explains their unity in terms of the human body. In Paul, the Church is the Body of Christ. Just as each part of the body has its special function and dignity, so it is in the Christian community. There is no part which does not receive due honour.
None is superior to the other. All have something to contribute to the smooth life of the whole. The concluding list of the various functions in the Christian community at Corinth enables us to catch a glimpse of its atmosphere and life.
If the Church today is to preach the ‘Good News’ to the poor and liberation to the captives, it, too, must be a union of people with different gifts. All these gifts are essential, but not to be taken over by one group. Mutuality and Interdependence, not Subordination and Privilege, must characterize Christ’s body.
Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21.
In the Gospel, Luke presents us with Jesus’ opening words of his public ministry. In the synagogue of Nazareth Jesus proclaimed, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”.
By these carefully chosen words, based on the prophet Isaiah, Jesus assures us of a new era of freedom filled with the compassion of God, a compassion that accomplishes full restoration of our birth right as children of God. God wants us to have within us that same Spirit that lived in Jesus and all the prophets. In the power of that Spirit, Jesus went out to bring healing to the sick and liberation to those who are not free in mind and body.
To become fearless prophets of God, we need the power of the Spirit to come upon us and our communities. We pray for the whole Church to be guided and empowered by the Spirit of Jesus. Our nation has poor people in great abundance.
Every country has always had its poor. However the poor are surrounded by obscene wealth and wastefulness practised by a privileged few. There is blindness all around us, in the form of false values, sexual irresponsibility and disrespect for life. Many of our brothers and sisters are oppressed and deprived of opportunities for employment and treated as second-class citizens because of their sex or race or national origin. All of this in a land where there would be enough for everyone if only we were willing to share. Latest figures in our country indicate that approximately 40% of all foodstuffs purchased and produced is eventually disposed of as waste. Sadly, it is not given to the hungry and the needy.
These iniquities make Jesus’ proclamation of salvation sound pretty hollow to many people. It sounded just like wishful thinking to the people of Nazareth, struggling under Roman domination. And yet, in the face of these discouraging realities, Jesus tells them that it does not have to be this way. No matter how far away God may seem, he is with us and working within us.
With God’s help we can change ourselves for the better and we can make the world around us a little more loving just by the way we work, spend, vote and love. That is the challenge and the source of our hope. That is the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. Jesus took a text from the past and said ‘it is being fulfilled today, even as you listen’.
Today, God is calling all of us from Babylon back to the Promised Land. Many of us have been in Babylon – we know what sin is. In Babylon, money is god, or sex, or power, or alcohol or drugs. Babylon is a place of slavery and the Lord is calling each one of us today to leave Babylon behind and to set out for the Promised Land. The journey may be long – it may be difficult – because it’s a journey to discover our true selves, the persons God had made us to be.
We will have to confront the false cultural messages that have led us astray – the messages that keep on telling us that human worth and human values are to be found in such things as money, power, physical beauty or physical strength, popularity or winning. These messages are false. It is in the Gospel that we will find true value, and it has to do with God’s Son dying on the Cross for us. That is where we may see what each one of us is truly worth.
It is in the Gospel that we find our true dignity as human beings. In listening to the Good News we discover in deeper ways who we really are, and we continue to respond to the Lord’s invitation to leave Babylon behind and make our journey back home to be free from the slavery of sin.
Scripture is not the story of the past but the Good News for every day. By constant reflection on God’s word we become familiar with what God did in the past so as to recognize what God is doing and saying today. Your words are spirit Lord, and they are life.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Israel having been exiled in Babylon for approximately 50 years and not being subject to the strict discipline of their Temple worship, the new generation of Israelites do not really know and understand the Lord’s Commandments and the precepts of the Jewish faith. In a modern secular world with all its distractions, we are also experiencing an exile from our faith. How well do we understand the ‘Ten Commandments’ and the extent which these Laws cover? How well do we understand the ‘Precepts of the Church’?
Mon. … When Ezra read the Law of Moses to this new generation and with the Levites explaining the content, many responded with tears because they now realized how imperfectly they had been observing God’s Laws. Perhaps we, too, might shed a tear or two of repentance when we realize how poorly we have been observing our faith? God’s Law is not meant to bring us sorrow, but peace, joy and happiness. Every Law of God is a new step to freedom, freedom from the slavery of sin.
Tues. … Every Catholic family needs a copy of the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’, which parents can use to guide themselves and their children to a fuller understanding of our faith. Our priests and deacons convert the written word each Sunday into an easy-to-understand homily tailor-made for our particular community. Do we meditate on God’s message in the homily during the week?
Wed. … In the second reading Paul states that the Church must be a union of people with different gifts, all of which are essential to spread the ‘Good News’. Mutuality and Interdependence, not Subordination and Privilege, must characterize the mind-set of the Church. How is our Church community measured on these characteristics? Are we able to spread the ‘Good News’?
Thur. … After his baptism, Jesus’ opening words when commencing his ministry were, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he had anointed me to bring ‘Good News’ to the poor…” Our baptism commissions us to do the same. As Christians we need to carry on with Christ’s work. Let us pray for the guidance of the same Spirit that lived in Jesus and the prophets.
Frid. … The iniquities between the privileged and the poor seem to make Jesus’ proclamation of salvation sound hollow to many of the disadvantaged in our communities. As Christians we need to practise the mutuality and interdependence Paul spoke about based on love and charity in order to make the ‘Good News’ ring clear and true.
Sat. … The greatest prophetic message we can give is ‘Love your Neighbour’. As Christians we can make the world more loving if we, by our living examples, become more loving. We need to change ourselves first, before we try to change the world. Let us lead others in the ‘Way’ by leaving behind a personal footprint of love. Let us help save others by the power of his love.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Almighty God and Father, today we reflect on the powerful first words of Jesus’ public ministry, based on the prophet Isaiah. Jesus assures all of us of a new era of freedom filled with the love and compassion of God that accomplishes full restoration to our birth right as children of God.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group. Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.