3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Vinner)
CHRIST, THE GOOD NEWS THAT LIBERATES US
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We rejoice in the Good News of Salvation which Christ brings to us. This Good News binds us together as the people of God and enables us to work for the kingdom of God. Christ himself is this Good News that brings us salvation. So the church invites us to listen to the Good News and meditate on it in our hearts. Today’s readings challenge us to hear, read and put into practice the saving and liberating word of God, thus transforming our lives and to convey the salvation and liberation of Christ to others around us through our renewed lives. Today’s Gospel, presenting Jesus’ “inaugural address” in the synagogue of Nazareth and outlining his theology of total liberation, marks a great moment in Jesus’ public ministry.
Today’s first reading, taken from Nehemiah, and Luke’s Gospel both describe a public reading of Sacred Scripture which challenges the hearers to make a “fresh beginning” with a new outlook. In the first reading, after rebuilding the Temple and restoring the city, Ezra leads the people in a “Covenant renewal” ceremony by reading and interpreting the Law. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 19) sings the praises of the Law of the Lord and its effects on those who accept it. 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, each of us has a share, as instruments in God’s hands, 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 declares that Isaiah’s prophecy is being fulfilled at that very moment “in their hearing,” because the prophecy foretells and describes Jesus’ own mission and ministry. Jesus’ mission is still to give liberation to everyone who will listen to his “Good News,” accept it and put it into practice. Luke reports that surprise and admiration were the initial reactions of the people who were astonished at the power and eloquence of this son of their soil.
The good news liberates us from two types of slavery. The first is a personally imposed slavery. This is the result of our personal sins and mistakes in life. This slavery makes us, spiritually exiled, blind and deaf. It cripples our spiritual life, and hardens our hearts against God and all that is good. It is the worst form of slavery because it affects us both spiritually and physically. Only Christ can liberate us from this slavery. We can achieve this liberation by accepting the good news, and by seeking reconciliation with Christ and ourselves.
The other type of slavery is that which is imposed on us by the society. These include structural, economic, and physical injustices that do not allow us to live a fulfilled life in this world. Both of these are great sources of pains and burden to us. However, it is important to note that our liberation from personally imposed slavery gives us the strength to combat the second form of slavery. This is because Christ strengthens us to endure and overcome all. So with our psalmist today, let us exalt the Lord: “Your words are spirit, Lord; they give life.”
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 have to share it with those we encounter in our daily lives, families, neighborhoods, parishes and workplaces.
We need to study the Bible and be filled with the Holy Spirit: In order to free us and others from the bondage of sin through our transparent Christian lives, we need to read and study the Bible and practice its teaching in our lives, while praying for the daily, strengthening-anointing of the Holy Spirit and His guidance in our daily lives and cooperating sincerely with His grace.
May God Bless us!
FR. S.Vinner HGN