THIRD SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
In the first reading, the people listen intently as Ezra proclaims the law of God. In the Gospel, the people listen as Jesus proclaims himself to be the fulfillment of God’s law or Word. Paul calls for unity in a community blessed with many diverse gifts.
FIRST READING: Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10
When the Israelites return from exile, not only have the cities to be rebuilt and the land restored, but the people have to be rededicated to God and his Word. Ezra, the priest/scribe, is entrusted with the spiritual renewal and rededication of his people. In today’s reading, Ezra is leading the people in a “covenant renewal” ceremony, at the center of which is a long proclamation of God’s Word (from sunrise to mid-day). The people are very moved as they listen to God’s Word. Everyone is weeping. They realize how they have been unfaithful to God and how much they have missed hearing his Word. The rededication ceremony concludes with a feast.
SECOND READING: 1Corinthians 12:12-30
The Corinthian community is plagued by factions of varying kinds. In today’s reading, Paul is preaching unity without diminishing the value of diversity. Just as each of our physical body parts must work to-gether to ensure the proper functioning of our whole body, so must all the members of the Church—the Body of Christ—work together. Mutual respect, cooperation and support should characterize the in-teraction among the members of the community. Each gift is valuable and should be used to build up the community.
GOSPEL: Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
Today’s passage begins with the opening verses from the Gospel of Luke. Imitating the Greek writers of his time, Luke begins by addressing his message to a particular person, Theophilus (“friend of God”), who may have been a friend of Luke’s and a wealthy patron. Luke tells us that he is going to share with us events from the ministry of Jesus as handed on to him by eyewitnesses. Luke’s hope and desire is that his message will lead others to accept Jesus and surrender their lives to him.
We move on to what is often called Jesus’ “Inaugural Address” or “Mission Statement” in which he uses verses from Isaiah to announce his purpose on earth. As the people listen, they should clearly realize that he is not going to be a political or military Messiah, but rather a servant who will proclaim by word and deed, God’s love and concern for the poor, the dis-enfranchised, and the spiritually and physically handicapped. Jesus concludes by proclaiming that he is the fulfillment of Israel’s Messianic expectations.
In the second reading, Paul is addressing divisive issues in the Corinthian community. What, if anything, causes dissension in our parish? Or what causes dissension in the larger Church that we belong to? What can we do to heal the dissension?