23 January 2022 – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) [Sunday of the Word of God]

by Fr Joachim Robert

Nehemiah 8:2-6,8-10
Psalm 18:8-10,15
1 Corinthians 12:12-30
Luke 1:1-4,4:14-21

Theme: Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life

Dear friends

As we look at the readings of today on this Word of God Sunday celebrated on the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we are invited to ponder on the centrality of the Word of God in our lives, the centrality of the Word of God in our families and the centrality of the Word of God in our community. And the letter that the Pope wrote on this Word of God Sunday invites us to allow the Word of God to open our minds and heart to the reading of the scripture.

And we look at the First Reading of today, a moving account of how the olden people were so honoured and were so reverent in praising God after all that they have gone through. One more thing to look at is the background of why they expressed themselves that way. The First Reading, dear friends, bring us to the time when the people of God were returning to Jerusalem, returning from the Babylonian exile and as they were going through this situation, trying to rebuild, trying to come back to their loved city, we see how so much of reverence is given for the Word of God because of the experiences that they have gone through.

They have gone through a great challenge, a time of great turmoil where they had to rebuild everything that they had lost, a time of social and economic situation where it has made them to be deprived of what they had before. And it was a time of great distress and they were trying to build this city once again. They were faced with so much challenges and obstacles that prevented them from seeing the city being restored.

But it is in these times, dear friends, that Ezra opened the sacred book and began to read to the people. And he sits down and read. It is moving how everyone was in tears of what they had received, acknowledging the sacredness and what they had lost. And that led them with great joy and excitement of treasuring what they have.

Let us look at our lives, dear friends, especially after this time of pandemic, we come to look at our own lives with so many brokenness, with so many situations, with so much uncertainties, and in some way we too are in the similar situation as the people who were returning back from the exile, relationships which were lost, political turmoil all around us, confusion, struggling aspects of the healthcare. And every situation, dear friends, we find ourselves helpless and not knowing what to do. And it is in these moments, in these circumstances, that the Word of God is given to us, to be opened, to be treasured and to allow the word of scripture to open up our hearts and our minds to the new meaning which the Lord is giving us to happiness and truth.

The Word of God, dear friends, brings our broken pieces of our lives, the broken situation of our lives and invites us towards repentance and gives us joy and hope. And that strengthens us to move towards the mission that we are called to.

The Second Reading of today, a beautiful story as well from Saint Paul, a similar situation like the First Reading where a community is being divided, with so many factions. And here, Saint Paul, in his concern for them, tells them and teaches them about community.

So all of us, dear friends, all of us are part of that one body, which is the church. And every one of us play an important role in ensuring and working toward the unity that God wants to see in our lives, in our families, in our community. Because everyone of us, dear friends, have a role to play in our church, have a role to play in our community, have a role to play in our families.

And all of us need to remember that this invitation to work towards unity is not only to be peaceful in ourselves. But the unity that we work towards is work towards the greater good of humanity and the greater good of the people all around us.

The Gospel today as well gives us a broader account of the gift of faith that we have received from God. The Gospel text of today says, “Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have taken place among us, exactly as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word”, and here Luke says, “I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you.

And we need to remember, dear friends, after so many things that have been said, of the experiences of live that we have encountered, we must remember to have an account of why God has led us out of the darkness into the joy, of finding strength and faith. And each one of us, as the Prophet Isaiah says,

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for He has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives,
to proclaim to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

Each one of us, dear friends, have been given this anointing to become peacemakers and community builders. We ask the Lord for the grace to allow us to embrace what He has given to us, to embrace the gift that He has given to us, all to use for the greater glory of his kingdom.

So today we pray that the Word of God continues to inspire us, that the Word of God continues to mold us and shape us and move us out of our repentance towards the light of His grace. We pray that we may find our source and strength in Jesus who is the Word of God made man.

And we pray that to be focused in our attention and allow the Lord Jesus to be at the centre of everything and every aspect of our lives, and for this grace to put Him in the centre of our lives. We pray.

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