3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time by Fr. Peter Chinnappan
OT III [C] Neh 8: 2-4, 5-6, 8-10; I Cor. 12:12-30; Luke 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21
Introduction: Today’s gospel, presenting Jesus’ inaugural speech in the synagogue of Nazareth and outlining his theology of total liberation, marks a great moment of Jewish history. The scripture readings for today focus our attention on the importance and liberating power of the Word of God as “sacramental,” making God present in our midst. The readings challenge us to listen to the Word, accept it into our hearts, then put it into practice as we live out our lives, liberating ourselves and others from all types of bondages.
Scripture lessons: Today’s first reading, taken from Nehemiah, and Luke’s gospel both describe a public reading of Sacred Scripture which challenged the hearers to make a “fresh beginning” with a new outlook. In the first reading, after rebuilding the Temple and restoring the city, Ezra was leading the people in a ‘Covenant renewal’ ceremony by reading and interpreting the Law. The Second Reading, taken from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, reminds us that “Together we are Christ’s body, but each of us is a different part of it.” This suggests that, as different parts of Christ’s body, we each have a share, as his instruments, in bringing the freeing and saving mission of Christ to our world in our times. Today’s gospel describes how, on a Sabbath, Jesus stood before the people in the synagogue of his hometown, Nazareth, reading and interpreting what Isaiah had prophesied about the Messiah and his mission. Jesus claims that he is the One sent “to bring glad tidings to the poor, liberation to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and freedom for the oppressed”—language that reflects the Biblical year of Jubilee. To the great amazement and disbelief of his own townsmen, Jesus declared that Isaiah’s prophecy was being fulfilled at that very moment “in your hearing,” because the prophet was foretelling and describing Jesus’ mission and ministry. Jesus’ mission would be to give liberation to everyone who would listen to his “good news,” accept it and put it into practice. Luke reports that the initial reaction of the people was surprise at the power and eloquence of this son of their soil.
Life messages: 1) We need to receive Christ’s freedom, live it and pass it on to others: As members of Christ’s Mystical Body, we share in the freeing, saving mission of Jesus. But we are captives of sin. We need Christ to set us free. We are often blinded by our evil habits, addictions and need for financial security. Once we receive true liberation from Christ, we must share it with those we encounter in our daily lives, families, neighborhoods, parishes and workplaces.
2) We need to let the power of the Holy Spirit fill us, and to be ready to have miracles done through us. Today’s gospel tells us that Jesus performed miracles because he was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us be ready to become Spirit-filled instruments of Christ’s saving freedom.