THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME C
Nehemiah 8:2-4, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Cor 12:12-30; Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
Today’s Scripture can be summarised as, “If we make the laws of God and the laws of the Church our own, the observance of them will not be burdensome but self-fulfilling, for they exist only to enable us to achieve the goals of Christ’s mission”. It also focus on the importance and power of the Word of God and its challenge for us; It is “sacramental” that when it is spoken, read or heard, God becomes present in our midst. So, we have to listen, accept it into our hearts and then put it into practice as we live out our lives.
The laws of God which Ezra gave to the people of Israel on their return from exile were first thought to be chains, thus caused the Israelites to weep. Our God is not a God of law but a God of freedom. When the people of God understood this they took the laws of God to their hearts, made them their own and moved from sadness to joy singing, “Your words, Lord, are spirit and life”
It will be so with us. If we have freely chosen to make the laws of God as the laws of our being, they will awaken in us the freedom to love and mature. Take the law of faith. We who receive this faith from our parents when baptised as babies are expected to make that faith our own as we grow older. As believers, we belong to the Church and the Church has its laws. If our hearts accepts this with vigorous love, then we can enter through the narrow gate of Church law into the vast expanse of the Spirit.
In second reading we can see that our human body, as long as we carry it around and until we commit it to the deep, lives by certain laws, each part being at the service of the other and all working towards the common good of the body, that is, working together offering our time, talents and treasures to each other as well as to all we encounter in our lives in fulfilment of our Baptismal calling and promises. So too in the Body of Christ, each member has a particular role to play, but all are required to join in the common mission of the Church – the mission of Jesus.
However, even after we have chosen to believe in Jesus, to accept His teachings and live them out in our lives, we are still in bondage. We are captives of sins, and only Christ can set us free. We are often blinded by our evil habits, addictions and need of financial security. Pride and prejudice can make us blind to the needs of less-fortunate, prompting us to fear and avoid them, rather than to love and help them. We can also be blind to the presence of God within ourselves and others.
Jesus needs us, His army of believers, to join his mission, helping the poor, releasing prisoners, healing the sick. Following in His steps from the synagogue worship service, to the hills of Galilee, on the road to Jerusalem, and the way of the cross, we discover that suffering is not God’s will. Rather, life in the face of suffering is God’s will, courage in the face of fear, faith in the face of doubts and abandonment; love in the face of hatred and prejudice. We need good news, freedom and healing; that is, in Christ, healing of our minds and hearts, freedom from our attitudes and outlook, good news to speak as we get up in the morning, and new hope for what we are doing with our lives. So let us together pray unceasingly, be ready to become Spirit-filled instruments of Christ’s saving freedom.
Jimmy James Totu.
St. Michael Parish Penampang.