SUNDAY OF THE WORD OF GOD – THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
1st Reading: Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10
Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, which consisted of men, women, and those children old enough to understand. Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate, he read out of the book from daybreak till midday, in the presence of the men, the women, and those children old enough to understand; and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law. Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. He opened the scroll so that all the people might see it —for he was standing higher up than any of the people—; and, as he opened it, all the people rose. Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people, their hands raised high, answered, “Amen, amen!” Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the Lord, their faces to the ground. Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read. Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all the people: “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep” for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!”
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 12:12-30
Brothers and sisters: As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.” Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
Gospel: 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.”
REJOICING IN THE LORD: The first reading invites the Israelites to rejoice in the presence of God who is holy. This is the God who is true Light and true Salvation. Being in Him gladdens the heart. In the second reading, being a part of this esteemed body of Christ, grants us joy and fruition. Jesus, being the Son of God, is the true Light and Salvation. This is the true meaning of Jesus proclaiming liberty to those captived by sin; sight to those blinded by sin; and freedom to those jailed by sin. In this freedom is the year of the Lord, that is full of joy.We are called to celebrate the year of the Lord and rejoice in his presence. We shall rejoice in the presence of the Lord if we are attentive to the Word of God. However, being attentive to the word of God is not enough, we are called to implement what it demands. Lack of attention to this Word, and lack of doing as per the Word, hinders our gladness. As Catholics, we are invited to constantly be attentive to the Word and to follow it. Whenever we fail to do so, we are invited to seek penance through the Sacrament of Confession. Rejoicing in the Lord demands faithfulness to his word. It demands listening and implementing the word of God freely out of love. A person rejoices in the Lord if the word of God is the authoritative guide for one’s life.
Prayer: Lord, help all people to listen and implement your word.
THE SPIRIT WITHIN: The world has many poor who are the excluded, the downtrodden, the oppressed, the afflicted, the forgotten, and the neglected. They may feel that God has forgotten them. They could lose hope even for salvation. Jesus came into the world to bring the Good News to the humanity. He came to rekindle people’s hope in God. He came to assure the poor that God has not forgotten them. The miseries of the world are often human creation. The wealth in the world is enough to sustain all human beings. However, some people have a desire to acquire and possess more than they need and the selfishness deprive others of their needs. One needs to have the Spirit of the Lord within to be able to see God in the poor person. The Spirit within is the new law, guiding a person to bring the Good News of hope for the salvation of the poor. This is what Jesus inaugurated and accomplished through his ministry here on earth. He has left us this new law, the Spirit within us, in order to continue with the same mission. The new law is not written in books, but is written in our hearts.