Homily Third Sunday Year C Our response to the Word of God

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Homily Third Sunday Year C

Reading 1: What is the background to this reading? People have returned to Jerusalem after their exile into Babylonia. They began, following the command of God, to rebuild first the city, then the Temple which were destroyed. In the process of restoration, Ezra the priest found scrolls which were hidden at the time of the exile. The scrolls were the Book of the Law, the Torah.

Once he realized what he had found, namely its significance, he told Nehemiah the Governor. They decided that the people needed to hear this Word of the Lord which would explain their relationship to God as his chosen people, the necessity of living as a Covenant people and how their ancestors were sent into exile because they had broken the Covenant.

As Ezra read from the Word of God the people began to weep before the Lord. But Ezra reminded them that this was not a time to weep over the past but a time of rejoicing. Why? They have found the source of their history and the recollection of God’s love for his chosen people. He proclaimed that since they are the people chosen by God they should rejoice for the Lord is their strength.

Eventually, he will call them to renew their covenant with God publicly. The Word of God was proclaimed; its truth was revealed, interpreted and received with rejoicing. Each Sunday we gather to hear the Word of God, our Salvation History. We are reminded how God has truly loved us and has redeemed us, so that we may be truly his people in whom we find our strength.

Reading 2: Paul reminds us who we are in relationship to God. We are the Body of Christ. He reminds us also who we are in relationship to one another. We are members of the one Body. He reminds us that in Baptism we entered into a new relationship with God and filled with the Holy Spirit. He tells us that because we are one in Christ there should be no division on antipathy between us.

Each member is unique and has a unique role in the Body of Christ. As such each is to be in harmony with the other. Our importance is not in who we are in ourselves, but who we are in Christ. Therefore, Paul says if one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one is honored all the members are to be joyful. We are to understand our role and how we have been gifted by the Holy Spirit and exercise that gift for the good of others.

Gospel: We begin with the first four verses of Luke’s Gospel where he states that he wants to write down in an orderly sequence the life and teachings of Jesus. This he has received from an eyewitness. Then we jump to the fourth chapter of Luke, which begins the public ministry of Jesus.

According to Luke, immediately after the Baptism of the Lord, which we celebrated two Sundays ago, Jesus began to teach and preach in such a way that people were amazed. His reputation spread throughout the region of Galilee. Now he returns to Nazareth, maybe to visit Mary.

Since he is a covenant observer, faithful to the Law, he goes with Mary to the synagogue on the Sabbath to praise God and to hear the Word of God. He had just had a powerful affirmation of the Father’s love for him. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit so that his ministry would be confirmed with signs and wonders.

Because he is somewhat of a hometown celebrity already, they ask him to read the Word of God and interpret it for them. Providentially they gave him the scroll of Isaiah the prophet. Jesus unrolled it to where Isaiah had prophesied what Jesus had experienced at his Baptism. It identified his mission as the One promised and sent by God. After reading the passage he concluded by saying: “Today, this passage has been fulfilled in your midst.” In other words, I am the one Isaiah is speaking about. I have experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and know the plan God has for me. At first the people were amazed, but as Jesus continued to explain, they turned against him and wanted to kill him.

In the first reading the people heard the Word of God, wept and then rejoiced at what God had revealed. In the Gospel the people heard the Word of God, were amazed but then rejected the interpretation. We have heard the Word of God. How do we receive it? How do we respond to it? Do we allow it to root in our hearts and bring about growth and bear fruit? Or do we stifle the Word of God by ignoring it and not acting on it?

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