Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 27, 2019 Cycle C

by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine,
 Washington, D.C.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The Word of God that we heard today invites us to be hearers of the Word in order to edify the Church and accomplish our mission in the world. Hearing God’s Word changes our hearts and allows us to participate in the fulfillment of God’s design.

Today’s Gospel says that Jesus went to a synagogue in Nazareth, where he had grown up. He read a passage from Isaiah and proclaimed himself as the servant of the Lord who brings God’s salvation: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor” (Lk 4:18).

Jesus tells us that there is a connection between the fulfillment of the Word and our hearing it: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21). Saint Paul says: “Faith comes from what is heard” (Rm 10:17). God fulfills his promises but our hearing is needed. The Word became flesh and dwells among us because of Mary’s “yes” to the Annunciation of the archangel. In other passages, Saint Luke says that Mary pondered the Word she heard in her heart. The Word of God incarnates through our hearing.

 In today’s second reading, Saint Paul affirms: “You are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it” (1 Cor 12:27). The Word of God edifies the body of Christ through the heart that welcomes it.

Today’s first reading presents the priest Ezra, who reads the Scripture aloud to the people after their return to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile. The assembly listens attentively to the reading of the Word of God in the temple: “[…] 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” (Neh 8:6). Hearing the Word of God leads to adoration. Meditation upon the Scripture introduces us to the contemplation of God.

The Word of God illuminates us, revealing what we are. Meditation upon the Scripture should lead to compunction of heart and the gift of tears. As the first reading says: “[…] all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law” (Neh 8:9). Compunction of heart is also called joyful sorrow: “Today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep.

[…] Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!” (Neh 8:10). We rejoice in God’s love and we repent our sins, like a tearful child who embraces his mother after doing something wrong.

Today’s psalm refrain says that God’s words are Spirit and life. The Word of God refreshes the soul, imparts wisdom, makes us rejoice and illuminates us inwardly. In order for our lives to be fruitful and meaningful, there is a void in our hearts that must be filled with the Word from God’s mouth.

Today’s readings invite us to think about the importance that we should afford to the Word of God in our spiritual life. Each one of us has a mission in the edification of the Church. The Body of Christ has different members with different vocations: “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” (1 Cor 12:28).

Let ask for the grace to be true hearers of the Word of God. May the hearing of the Word change our hearts. May our hearing of God’s voice make us participants in the edification of the Body of Christ and the fulfillment of God’s plans for the world.  Amen.

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