January 24: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Readings: Nehemiah 8:2-4,5-6,8-10; 1 Cor. 12:12-30; Lk. 11-4; 4:14-21
Both the Gospel and the first reading of this Sunday proclaim a liberating message of good news to the poor. In the first reading the Israelites have just returned from their long exile in Babylon where they have been greatly humiliated, and so their spirits are down. They need a word of encouragement to help renew them spiritually, and offer them a strong motivation. Ezra the priest understands their situation, and uses the regular worship as a moment for spiritual recommitment as he reads from the Book of the Law of God. We are told that “all the people listened attentively”. The message seems to touch the audience deeply, and the people are ready to recommit themselves to their God, and to embark on a spiritual, moral and physical renewal of Jerusalem. Here we find a good pastoral example in the way the priest Ezra applies the Word of God in a concrete situation with great success in a spiritual renewal of the people. The responsorial psalm affirms this power of God’s Word. “Your words, Lord, are spirit and they are life”.
In the Gospel reading Jesus like Ezra reads a Scripture passage in the Synagogue. The passage given to Jesus from Isaiah is a concrete fulfilment in his own person and ministry. “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen”. The passage is a summary of Jesus’ pastoral ministry that is already accomplished. Jesus is sent “to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free and to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour”. In blending this text from Isaiah and the words of Jesus at the end, Luke highlights the fact that indeed Jesus is the Messiah foretold by the prophets. What message do we take home? 1) Jesus like Ezra the priest, helps us to apply the word of God in the concrete situation of today. 2) We are invited to listen to the word of God in a fresh way; to reflect on what it means in our life, families, and parish community. 3) May the Good News proclaimed today be a response to those need to enrich their hearts; those who are held captive by worldly cares; may it heal our blindness caused by the darkness of this world; may the Good news set free those who are downtrodden by oppressive social systems. 4) May Christ’s prophecy be fulfilled in the life of the Church today in Christian communities and parishes, as the poor experience the good news, the captives set free, and the blind of all categories enabled to see again.
©2010 John S. Mbinda