3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 24th, 2016

Today’s First Reading taken from the Book of Nehemiah tells of the crucial role of the Law of God in the Israel community. Ezra and Nehemiah were given the special task by God to rebuild the community. They were also given the task of rebuilding the Temple of God. They knew of the importance placed in those days on knowing and obeying the Law of Moses. Anyone who had reached the age of reason and could hear with understanding was required to be present and to listen to the reading of the law. They were called upon to live the law in total fidelity. But Ezra first starts rebuilding their hearts. The Prophet dramatizes the crucial role of the word of God. He stands on a platform and reads it from daybreak to noon. People listen to the word of God, understand the law in their heart and receive it with fervour. They raise their hands and respond with a double Amen. They lie down on the ground and offer total submission to the Lord. There is hope for the people whose strength is the Lord and the prophets urge them to rejoice. They also shed tears perhaps reflecting the infidelity of the earlier generations. So there is hope for the people of God whose strength is the Lord. The prophets call on the people to rejoice.

Today’s Second Reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians revealed to us how important it is for the members of the Body of Christ to be united. Each member has been called to serve the Lord. He sees the multiplicity of Christians as living members of one Body. Each member interacts in a constant giving and receiving. And each member gets the same respect. In fact, it is the “weakest” and “least honourable” parts which receive greater attention. For it is in mutual giving and receiving as one Body that we enable each other to experience the enrichment, the vision and the freedom which Jesus wishes us to have. The problem with our Christian living is that it is so individualistic. They try to manage things on their own. God has called each person for a different function. But the unity of the church is in its source in the one Spirit. Though there are many members as in a human body, the body of the church has many members but it is one body. At the same time, each member of the human body is distinct and has a different role to play, so also the body of Christ performs various functions. Every member needs the other and the one with superior function does not become superior. All members are to care for and honour one another. Paul also adds that God has a special care for lowly members.

In the Gospel passage we heard Jesus proclaiming that the year of the Lord’s favour as it was written in the Scripture. By this Jesus meant that the long awaited messianic jubilee had finally arrived. The promised messianic salvation had ultimately come. Jesus affirmed that He was the long awaited Messiah and they ought to rejoice in it. In His proclamation, Jesus said that He had been anointed to bring good news to the poor, He had been sent to release the captives, for the recovery of sight of the blind and to let the oppressed go free. Literally taken with a worldly approach, these words imply that Jesus had come to bring abundance to those who were poor, to free the slaves and the prisoners, to heal the blind and to stop all worldly oppression. But this was not what Jesus meant. Embracing a spiritual approach, it becomes clear that the proclamation of the Lord Jesus was to announce the arrival of the Kingdom of God on earth. The Kingdom of God was the good news that Jesus was proclaiming. For the arrival of the Kingdom of God is to be fulfilled meant the arrival of the promised Messiah. It indicated that those who were spiritually blind would be enlightened; now being able to see the
way, the truth and the life. It meant that those who were captives or slaves of sin would be free and liberated in the kingdom. The kingdom will grant them new life.